The Atlantic – The Secrecy Behind the Drugs Used to Carry Out the Death Penalty

Inmates killed by lethal injection used to get a dose of sodium thiopental. But that drug is no longer available, and, in a blow to transparency, prison officials in Missouri and elsewhere won’t say how it has been replaced.
The death chamber at the Missouri Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Mo. (AP Images)

The sharpest battles over capital punishment today are being fought over the identity of the drugs officials seek to use in lethal injections, how those drugs are manufactured and obtained by executioners, and the obligations state officials have to share material information about the drugs with death-row inmates and the rest of the world. Late Friday, in a case out of Missouri, the Eighth U.S Circuit Court of Appeals rendered the most significant ruling yet to come out of these battles. The result is catastrophic for those who believe the means of capital punishment should generally be as transparent as its ends.

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