Arkansas prison board delays execution-drug proposal
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas prisons board officials are holding off from endorsing staff-proposed legislation that would help conceal the identities of makers of the state’s execution drugs.
Arkansas Board of Corrections Chairman Benny Magness pulled the drug-secrecy proposal from the board’s agenda on Wednesday, saying he first wants to hear Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s opinion, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported .
“My belief is we didn’t give that (legislation) enough time to talk about and consider,” he said.
A spokesman for Rutledge said she’ll review the proposal to determine its constitutionality.
The decision came a day after Gov. Asa Hutchinson endorsed the proposal by state prison officials to mask certain documents reporters use to disclose lethal-injection manufacturers ahead of executions. The plan was for lawmakers to review the proposal during the 2019 session.
The current Method of Execution Act, passed in 2015, primarily relies on a three-drug mixture for lethal injections, including midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride. Each drug’s supplier is legally kept confidential, but package inserts and drug labels can be disclosed.
The Corrections Department temporarily stopped releasing the package inserts and labels after reporters could use the documents to identify the original manufacturers, which prompted complaints from pharmaceutical companies that objected to their drugs being used for executions.
The state Supreme court ruled that such behavior by the department violates the law and that drug manufacturers are subject to public disclosure. The department has been unable to restock its execution drugs since the ruling, according to prisons spokesman Solomon Graves.
Hutchinson scheduled nine executions last year, five of which were halted by the courts. The remaining cases were carried out over the objections of pharmaceutical companies that said the state obtained their products for executions without their knowledge.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com