Proposed Law Would Keep Lethal Injection Info Secret
The names of companies providing drugs for lethal injections will remain under wraps if a bill advancing through the Louisiana Legislature becomes law.
Republican Rep. Joe Lopinto originally wrote House Bill 328 to bring back the electric chair for executions, yet he amended that provision to instead exempt lethal injection information from public records law.
"The biggest issue for us is that we can't get the drugs," said Department of Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc, who spoke in support of Lopinto's bill.
Several states are having trouble securing drugs for lethal injections, because the companies that supplied those drugs — mostly from overseas — stopped providing them. But now, as these states scramble to find alternative distributors, they're also trying to keep the names of those companies secret.
The biggest issue for us is that we can't get the drugs.
"Other states have put in protections so they don't have to expose who the supplier is," Lopinto, of Metairie, argued.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections attorney James Hilburn, speaking after an Oklahoma district court in March declared such secrecy unconstitutional, said the privacy measures are necessary for states to be able to regularly secure the drugs.
“The State has been required to seek out new manufacturers and drug suppliers repeatedly due to their identity being disclosed to the media, which has resulted in negative publicity and loss of business to those entities and a subsequent refusal to provide the drugs to DOC,” he said.
The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month declined two cases from Louisiana and Missouri that tackle the issue.
The Louisiana case involves death row inmate Christopher Sepulvado — who in 1993 was convicted of torturing and killing his stepson — and his argument that he has a constitutional right to know how he'll be killed. He was granted a 90-day delay on Feb. 3, just two days before he was set to be executed with the same lethal cocktail that resulted in a drawn out death for one Ohio inmate in January.
Lopinto's bill received full support from the House Criminal Justice Committee and now advances to the floor for debate.