Most Death Penalty States Hide the Names of the Suppliers of Execution Drugs
With traditional supplies of execution drugs drying up and states turning to unconventional means to kill prisoners, lawyers for the condemned have sought to learn just how their clients will be put to death. But in most cases, obtaining this information is nearly impossible.
Of the 32 states that still use lethal injection, nearly all refuse to disclose which drugs they utilize, according to the Associated Press (AP).
At least nine states (Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas) have recently adopted secrecy laws that prevent the public or inmates from knowing the source of execution drugs. Their justification is that opponents of capital punishment might harass drug makers if their identities were revealed.
Three of the aforementioned states (Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas), as well as Florida, are some of the most active in using the death penalty.
“As far as we know, it could be coming from a veterinary source, it could be coming from some dark corner of the Internet,” Cheryl Pilate, a Missouri attorney who handles death row appeals, told the AP. “We simply don’t know.”
An Oklahoma judge stepped in last week to void that state’s execution law. Two inmates had claimed their rights were violated because a “veil of secrecy” prevents them from obtaining information about lethal injection drugs.
There are a few states that don’t hide the names of the manufacturers of their Execution drugs.
Delaware, Nevada and Virginia have revealed that they buy their execution drugs from Cardinal Health, based in Dublin, Ohio. A fourth state, Ohio, uses drugs made by Hospira. However, Hospira is now out of the execution-drug business.
The AP found that many states that refuse to disclose their drug sources are relying on unnamed compounding pharmacies. The problem with that, critics say, is that the federal government provides insufficient regulation of compounding pharmacies, which garnered national attention in 2012 following an outbreak of meningitis that killed 64 and sickened hundreds.
The source of that public health crisis turned out to be a compounding facility in Massachusetts.
To Learn More:
In Most States, Execution Drugs Are Surrounded By Secrecy (by Andrew Welsh-Huggins and Jim Slater, Associated Press)
State by State Lethal Injection (Death Penalty Information Center)
Georgia Uses Secrecy Law to Obtain Lethal Drug for Execution of Mentally Disabled Prisoner (by Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
4 States Pass Laws Hiding Names of Suppliers of Death Penalty Drugs (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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