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Alabama House approves execution drug secrecy bill

On Thursday the Alabama House of Representatives approved a bill [HB 379, text] that would require information related to suppliers of drugs used in lethal injections to be kept confidential, citing current difficulties obtaining the drugs. The bill is being pushed by the Alabama Department of Corrections [official website], and passed [AP report] the House by a vote of 77-19. Supporters of the bill say it is necessary to protect drug suppliers from subsequent lawsuits. Opponents believe that details of state-sanctioned executions should not be kept secret, and have expressed concerns about the fact that the bill protects not just the names of the drugs manufacturers, but also makes confidential most details relating to the execution process. Several other states have adopted similar laws, many of which are currently facing legal challenges in state and federal court.

Georgia has a similar execution secrecy bill that is currently being challenged, and the Georgia Supreme Court [official website] heard [JURIST report] oral arguments relating to the law's constitutionality on February 18. Many state execution protocols have been altered in response to the current shortage of the more commonly used drugs, prompting several to use new and untested drugs. An execution in Louisiana has been stayed [JURIST report] pending a review of the new drugs to be used in the state's executions. In January the prolonged execution of an Ohio man convicted of rape and murder further exacerbated [JURIST report] the controversy about lethal injection drugs.

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