Thursday, February 27, 2014

Under cover of night

In the early morning hours Wednesday, the state of Missouri strapped Michael Taylor down to a gurney, stuck a needle in his arm and killed him.

The drug the state used, pentobarbital, was acquired from a compounding pharmacy. It is not known where the state obtained the drug because the state has passed legislation to keep that information from the public.

We know that on at least four occasions Missouri corrections officials obtained the drug used to execute an inmate from an out-of-state pharmacy that was not licensed to distribute its drugs in Missouri. Selling prescription medications in Missouri without a state-issued license is a felony offense.

So, in caring out an execution (and in supposedly caring out the law), government officials conspired to violate state laws regarding the distribution of non-licensed prescription medications. At least this time the state waited until Mr. Taylor had exhausted all of his appeals before killing him.

In a statement released to the media, Missouri governor Jay Nixon said his thoughts and prayers were with the family of Mr. Taylor's victim as they remembered their daughter. He expressed no such thoughts to Mr. Taylor's family. Just as the Harrison's lost a loved one due to senseless violence, so did the Taylor family.

Now why is Missouri so concerned about keeping the identity of the pentobarbital supplier a secret? Strapping inmates down and killing them with a lethal overdose of a sedative is supposedly both legal and right. If so, why the shroud of secrecy? We do things under the cover of night and in secret because we know what we're doing isn't right. Now I understand that having your name out in the media as the pharmacy that supplied the state with execution drugs probably isn't the best publicity you can get -- but if you don't want the public to know what you're doing on the side, maybe you should think twice about your business practices.

As for the state, you are carrying out these executions in the name of the people, using taxpayer money and taxpayer-funded facilities. The people in whose name you are acting and who are providing you with the money to do so deserve to know what is being done in their name. The people of Missouri have a right to know who supplied the drug and how much it cost.

If no one is willing to stand up and disclose that information, then maybe state officials should rethink their use of the death penalty.

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