[JURIST] The Mississippi House of Representatives approved a bill [HB 1305 materials] on Thursday that would make details involving executions secret and allow lawsuits against anyone who divulges the secrets. Moreover, the names of the executioner and anyone “assisting in the execution in capacity” would be exempt from public disclosure. The release of names of the witnesses would be barred without their consent, and the drug suppliers used for the executions would be concealed as well. Otherwise, those who release the names could be sued for punitive money damages. The legislation was requested by Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood, and the House passed the bill [AP report] by a vote of 82-34 despite an effort to outlaw the death penalty by Representative Willie Bailey. The bill now moves to the Senate.
Several other states have also passed similar legislation. In December the Ohio House of Representatives approved a bill [HB 663 text] that would grant anonymity to drug manufacturers charged with supplying the lethal drugs for 20 years. The individuals who make the drugs would be a permanent secret. In May the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled [JURIST report] that the source of execution drugs can remain a secret. The Supreme Court of Oklahoma ruled [JURIST report] in April that two inmates’ constitutional rights were not violated by keeping the sources of lethal injection drugs secret.