On March 26, an Oklahoma judge ruled that the state’s practice of keeping the source of execution drugs a secret is unconstitutional.
The fact that execution drugs are hard to come by spurred this recent decision as states are finding it harder and harder to procure the drugs used in executions.
According to the judge, the law keeping the source of the drugs secret violates death row inmates’ right to access to the courts to argue against their own executions.
Earlier in March, the court of criminal appeals granted a stay of execution for two death row inmates scheduled to die in March.
Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner filed a case to allow for information about the execution drugs, but their executions were moved to April. Oklahoma could not find a supplier for the execution drugs.
Defense attorneys are now lauding this ruling as a step toward shedding light on and adding accountability to the state’s shadowy execution processes. This is a step in the right direction for open records.
This ruling highlights the national practice of engaging in secretive activities to cover up who supplies the execution drugs.
Because many suppliers have stopped selling the drugs for use in executions, many states are turning to more experimental cocktails.
Whether you have sympathy for death row inmates or not, they should have the right to know as much as possible about the method of execution.
If the drugs are impure, then the state runs the risk of engaging in cruel and unusual punishment.
I know many think that those convicted of heinous crimes shouldn’t have that consideration, but it’s the law, and we have to uphold the law of our land.
I applaud the courts for shedding light on what has traditionally been a very secretive practice of hiding execution drug protocol.