[JURIST] The Alabama House of Representatives [official website] on Wednesday voted to keep execution drug suppliers’ names secret and to bring back the use of the electric chair when chemicals for lethal injection are not available. The members of the House added the drug suppliers secrecy section to a bill that is currently under debate. The bill would allow the use of the electric chair in the state whenever the state is unable to acquire lethal injection drugs or if the execution method is deemed unconstitutional. Representative Lynn Greer stated [AP report] that Alabama and other states are having issues acquiring the drugs because pharmacies fear lawsuits from death penalty opponents. However, there was some opposition to the provision, as representative Chris England stated that drug purchases are public record and the state has no authority to hide this information from the public. The members passed the bill by a vote of 76-26, sending it now to the Alabama Senate.
The use of alternative drug protocols in lethal injections and legislation to keep execution details secret have been topics of much debate and controversy in the US. In October Alabama death row inmate Christopher Lee Price on filed a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] against the Alabama Department of Corrections claiming that the new lethal injection mix planned for use in his execution is unconstitutional. In September Oklahoma moved to adopt [JURIST report] new lethal injection procedures following the controversy around the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in April. In August a federal appeals court denied a challenge [JURIST report] to the lethal injection mix being used in Texas, where the inmate claimed similar violations of the eighth and fourteenth amendments. In December the Ohio House of Representatives approved a bill [JURIST report] that would grant anonymity to drug manufacturers charged with supplying the lethal drugs for 20 years. In May the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled [JURIST report] that the source of execution drugs can remain a secret.