Newspapers, ACLU push for info on Pa. execution drugs

     (<a href=Photo via ShutterStock) " title="shutterstock_46269751" width="640" height="360"/>

    (Photo via ShutterStock)

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and four newspapers want to know the source of lethal injection drugs used by the commonwealth in executions.

    The bloc is asking a federal judge to release documents involved in a class-action lawsuit claiming the state’s lethal injections violate the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment.

    Litigation in the 2-year-old case has revealed the supplier of the state’s lethal injection drugs. State law requires the identity of those who administer lethal injections be confidential.

    But Mary Catherine Roper, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, says knowing the supplier matters.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    With commercial pharmacies refusing to provide lethal injection drugs, states have had to turn to alternative suppliers that aren’t under the same regulations.

    “The most extreme power that we give our government is the power to kill somebody,” she said. “And so when the government is going to exercise that power, we think that is the time that calls for the most public scrutiny possible.”

    The information request was filed in light of an execution scheduled for later this month.

    Hubert Michael was slated to be executed Sept. 22 for the 1993 murder of 16-year-old Trista Eng in York County

    Gov. Tom Corbett has since granted a temporary reprieve, saying the postponement was necessary to let the Department of Corrections obtain “injection agents.”

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal