The state of Texas can keep secret the name of its supplier for execution drugs, the state’s Attorney General determined after police argued that suppliers face serious danger.
In the decision, the Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office cited a “threat assessment” that says pharmacies selling execution drugs face “a substantial threat of physical harm”.
The decision on Thursday was a reversal for the state’s top prosecutor on an issue being challenged in several death-penalty states.
The decision came the same day that the Missouri Attorney General, Chris Koster, said his state should consider creating its own laboratory for execution drugs rather than relying on “uneasy co-operation” with outside sources.
The US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 but the number of executions in the US has declined steadily since peaking in 1999. Six states have stopped using the death penalty in the past eight years.
Under Mr Abbott – also the Republican nominee for governor in the nation’s busiest death-penalty state – the Texas Attorney General’s Office had rejected three attempts by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to keep secret its source of the drugs used to carry out lethal injections.
Lawyers for inmates say they need to verify the drugs’ potency and protect against unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.
While courts have consistently refused to stop executions over the privacy issue, lawyers for death-row inmates say they need the information to verify the drugs’ potency and protect inmates from unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.
Death-penalty states have been scrambling to find new sources of drugs after several drugmakers, including many based in Europe, refused to sell drugs for use in lethal injections. That has led several states to compounding chemicals, which are not as heavily regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as more conventional chemicals.