Civil Rights Law & Policy Blog

Editor: Andrew M. Ironside

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Monday, April 7, 2014

"Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison...

...and the executioner's face is always well hidden."

The Associated Press reports the results of its recent survey of state policies as to the identities of providers of execution drugs. It found that the "vast majority" of states protect the identity of their providers. The notable exceptions are Delaware, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. The article begins:

ImagesDating to the days when the guillotine operator or the hangman wore a mask, a certain amount of anonymity has always surrounded executions. But that secrecy is increasingly coming under fire, with judges, death penalty opponents and lawyers questioning why so little can be known about a state's most solemn responsibility.

 

An Associated Press survey of the 32 death penalty states found that the vast majority refuse to disclose the source of their execution drugs. The states cloaked in secrecy include some with the most active death chambers — among them Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and Missouri.

 

Most states have recently begun relying on loosely regulated "compounding pharmacies" for execution drugs but refuse to name them, citing concerns about backlash that could endanger the supplier's safety. But many states refuse to provide even more basic information — how much of the drug is on hand, the expiration date, how it is tested. Those who question the secrecy wonder how an inmate's constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment can be guaranteed if nothing is known about the drug being used to kill him.

"As far as we know, it could be coming from a veterinary source, it could be coming from some dark corner of the Internet," said Cheryl Pilate, a Kansas City, Mo., attorney who handles death row appeals. "We simply don't know."

 

The most prolific death penalty states have successfully deflected most challenges to secretive protocols. But momentum is building toward unlocking details. 

CRL&P related posts:

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/civil_rights/2014/04/where-the-executioners-face-is-always-well-hidden.html

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Comments

If I was sentenced by a court to be killed by The People of the Great State of Texas then I would like to be killed in a manly fashion. A firing squad with the Governor of the State being the lead shooter seems appropriate. I would not want to be put in a chair, strapped down and electrocuted. Or strapped in a chair be be gassed. Or strapped to a gurney on my back and have a needle stuck in my arm to deliver poison into my body. Guillotine would be better than the others. Being shot in the head or having the head cut off in an efficient manner far exceeds the barbaric methods used in these United States. If you are gonna kill me shoot me. And don't employ dumb words like "execute" or "lethal injection". Speek the unvarnished truth.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Apr 7, 2014 11:49:14 AM

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