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Friday, November 26, 2010

TDCJ Refusing to Follow Order from Texas Attorney General to Disclose Suppliers of Lethal Injection Drugs

TDCJ is refusing to follow an order from the Texas Attorney General to release names of suppliers of lethal injection drugs. The Statesman reported on the issue in last Saturday's paper when some documents were released by TDCJ but not the names of the suppliers of the drugs:
Scott Cobb, president of the Texas Moratorium Network, an Austin-based death penalty abolition group, said the documents shed new light on the process.
"The fact that the doses of (sodium thiopental) expire in March could mean they will have to change the drugs they use or find a supplier — and that's significant," he said. "No one has answered how they get these prescription drugs legally to execute people."
Now an editorial in today's Austin American-Statesman says, "there is no ambiguity in the phrase "may not withhold," but the prison system has not given up its love of secrets — and has not revealed the names of the suppliers of the drugs".
"The prison system should disclose the information as the latest ruling orders.

Furthermore, instead of wasting public time and money defending the indefensible, the prison system should be answering questions about how it intends to carry out executions if a key ingredient in the lethal cocktail is unavailable".
More from Statesman:
Texas has the busiest execution chamber in the country, and Texans have a right to know whether the state's supply of the lethal drugs is sufficient to meet court-mandated executions. Texans also have a right to know how the agency responsible for executions will meet its obligations if the supplies run out.

Prison system lawyers argued that releasing the information would somehow stoke violent anti-death penalty demonstrations — even though there is no history of violent anti-death penalty demonstrations.

"The release of any of the information would be akin to a local DPS office providing a requester (a potential terrorist) with how much ammunition was stored in the office," prison agency lawyer Patricia Fleming argued in urging that the information be withheld.

Assistant Attorney General Leah Wingerson rejected those arguments in great detail.

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