The state of Texas has recently acquired a “new batch of drugs” to be used in state executions moving forward. The state is trying to keep anonymity, and not reveal the source that they obtained these drugs from, however questions arising over the safety and legality of anonymity have been rising in other states recently. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says that there are numerous security problems that revolve around revealing their partner in obtaining these drugs. As a matter of fact, a brief was filed on Tuesday by the state attorney’s office which cited a supplier from a different state who had received threats of “physical violence” over these drugs.
Patricia Fleming, assistant counsel for the prison system in Texas said that an unnamed individual had claimed he was willing to “blow up a truck full of fertilizer” that was on the grounds of a pharmacy which supplies chemicals and drugs that are used in state executions. Because of this incident, and public opinion, she has stated that the “open-records request” that was presented by a condemned man’s attorney to have the source of these drugs revealed should not be allowed.
There have been many drug makers and pharmaceutical companies who have pulled out of deals where they supply products to be used for executions. This trend has happened at an exceptional rate in Europe where public opinion surrounding capital punishment is the strongest in its opposition.
This trend has put states in a tricky position. Many have been forced to turn to compounding companies, who are not exposed to the kind of detailed regulation that the U.S. food and Drug Administration uses on normal pharmaceutical companies. Recently in Houston however, when a batch of drugs expired the compounding company who supplied the drugs refused to continue its partnership with the state because they had received multiple threats after their name had gone public.
Now that Texas has an “undisclosed supplier” the attorney for Ramiro Hernandez-Llana has sought the name of the company that provided the drugs. The last three times an attorney sought this information in Texas the name of the company was provided. The Department of Criminal Justice has to either provide the name by March 25th, provide a date on which the name would be revealed or obtain a ruling from the attorney general that they did not have to give out the name.
The Texas Criminal Justice System released their opinion, through Fleming, which said that they find the release of this information to create a serious and potential risk for workers at the pharmacy and any customers who may visit the pharmacy if the name were to be revealed.
A further complication for Hernandez-Llanas, and another death row inmate Tommy Lynn Sells, is that the Attorney General of Texas does not have to make an official reply for another 45 days, at the end of which both men would be executed. Not waiting, the two men have filed requests with a federal court. The court battles will continue to go on as Texas seeks to keep the anonymity of its supplier so that they can keep receiving drugs to complete executions.
By Nick Manai