Texas Fights to Keep Execution Drug Supplier Secret

The Texas Criminal Justice Department is asking the state Supreme Court to reconsider last month's decision that would publicly identify a supplier of lethal injection drugs.

State leaders argue the 2014 supplier could face harm from death penalty opponents who insist the information is needed to ensure the potency and purity of the drugs.

“It is very definitely an effort to shutdown the death penalty by curtailing the supply of the needed drug,” says Ken Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.

“The best way to assure the purity and potency of a drug is to test it and Texas does that, and they can have the report,” he says. “Once you have that report, it doesn't matter where it came from.”

The 2015 Legislature passed a law keeping the name of drug suppliers secret, but it was not retroactive.

“That is certainly an important enough issue that it warrants the attention of the state's highest court,” says Scheidegger. “But the claim they need it to assure the purity of the drug is just nonsense.”

He says Texas could eliminate the controversy by swapping lethal injection for nitrogen gas, already adopted by Oklahoma, Mississippi and Alabama. Four other states allow the gas chamber as an alternative method of execution.

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