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Louisiana faced with revealing lethal injection details to inmate

Source: Reuters - Sat, 29 Mar 2014 00:18 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Adds Texas Supreme Court move in final paragraph)

By Jon Herskovitz

March 28 (Reuters) - The Louisiana Department of Corrections does not plan to appeal a U.S. Court decision this week that compels it to reveal to inmates on death row the content and maker of drugs used in lethal injections, a prisons official said on Friday.

The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Thursday was one in a series in favor of inmates who have sought delays for their execution while they seek information about the contents of lethal injection cocktails and clarity on who would be supplying the drugs.

The decisions are likely to delay executions across the country as lawyers for inmates in other states launch similar efforts on their behalf in states looking to develop new means of lethal injection after supplies of drugs they have once used have run dry.

"The state will not appeal the decision," Darryl Campbell, the executive management officer of the Louisiana Department of Corrections, told Reuters. The attorney general's office did not reply to calls seeking comment.

A three-judge panel for the Fifth Circuit rejected a petition on Thursday from the prison system to keep information about the drugs and how they would be administered secret from Christopher Sepulvado and other death row inmates.

Sepulvado, convicted of scalding and beating his 6-year-old stepson to death in 1992, was scheduled to be executed earlier this year but the execution was delayed in February due to questions about the lethal injection.

Several states have been scrambling to find new suppliers and chemical combinations after drug makers, mostly in Europe, imposed sales bans because they objected to having medications made for other purposes being used in lethal injections.

The states said they have looked to alter the mix of drugs used for lethal injections and keep the suppliers' identities secret. They have also turned to lightly regulated compounding pharmacies.

Those pharmacies can mix drugs, often to meet needs not available in prescription medication, the pharmacy compounding accreditation board said.

But lawyers for death row inmates have argued that keeping information secret was a violation of due process protections in the U.S. Constitution. They also argued that drugs from compounding pharmacies can lack purity and potency and cause undue suffering, in violation of the Constitution.

So far, courts have decided in their favor, with an Oklahoma judge ruling on Wednesday that the state's secrecy on its lethal injections protocols was unconstitutional.

On Thursday, a Texas state judge ordered the department of corrections to disclose the name of the supplier of drugs used for two inmates scheduled to be executed in April. The state plans an appeal and has argued it must keep the names secret to protect its suppliers.

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday temporarily suspended the decision to compel the prison system to reveal the source of the lethal injection drugs to allow judges time to consider the issue, the Houston Chronicle reported. (Additional reporting by Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Gunna Dickson)

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