Death Penalty

Missouri Ordered to Reveal the Source of Its Death Penalty Drugs

A rare win for transparency in government in the Show-Me State.


The state of Missouri was ordered by a

A win for transparency in the Show-Me State
Flickr/Ken Piorkowski

circuit court judge to divulge the names of the two pharmacies who have been providing the state with drugs used in lethal injection executions. 

Tuesday's ruling, the result of a lawsuit filed by five news organizations (The Kansas City Star, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Springfield News-Leader, The Guardian and the Associated Press) found that the pharmacies in question were not part of the "execution team" and thus were not legally entitled to the confidentiality which is afforded to executioners. 

In 2011, the European Union (EU) banned the export of drugs used in executions to American death penalty states, which has forced those states to go through increasingly murky channels to secure the drugs used to kill prisoners.

But a series of botched executions in the US has raised awareness about the need for death penalty transparency and increased concern about the quality and provenance of drugs that are failing to provide the state with the means to "humanely" execute people. 

Ed Pilkington of The Guardian writes that Missouri's department of corrections willfully ran afoul of its own transparency laws:

Judge Jon Beetem excoriated the department of corrections for refusing to hand over to the media plaintiffs key documents that identified the pharmacists involved.

The judge ruled that the DOC had "knowingly violated the sunshine law by refusing to disclose records that would reveal the suppliers of lethal injection drugs, because its refusal was based on an interpretation of Missouri statutes that was clearly contrary to law".

Beetem ordered the prisons service to pay the plaintiffs $73,335 in legal costs. He also ordered the state to hand over all relevant documents, though he stayed that requirement pending appeal. Missouri has indicated that it will do so.

In 2015, Reason TV interviewed Pilkington about the then-pending lawsuit in the documentary "The Battle for Death Penalty Transparency." Watch below.

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  1. I believe Virginia is talking about bringing back to electric chair because of the difficulty in getting the drugs too. (Or making the chair the default, I think one can select it as the method of execution if they prefer).

    I’m not sure why firing squad went out of fashion.

    1. Because a firing squad looks barbaric even though it’s probably more humane than these ridiculous drug cocktails and people care more about feeling like savages than they do about actually being savages.

      1. Firing squad would be my choice. No thanks to drugs and the gas chamber always seemed like pure nightmarish torture.

      2. Mormons do have a barbaric essence about them.…..e#stream/0

        I think you’re onto something though, more elaborate systems act like a mask.

      3. No reason for the drug route to be anything but pleasant. It’s just government fucks everything up.

        1. Yeah, I do wonder how we can put dogs to sleep so easily but there are all these horror stories about state executions.

          1. Putting people to sleep is my full time job. When I read about these both executions all I can think is “who hired these clowns”. It’s not rocket surgery.

          2. Seriously. Appropriate doses of the stuff used on dogs would be my first choice, and firing squad second.

        2. If the drugs are mixed properly and actual medical doctors are involved, it would most likely be pleasant. The problem is that the drugs are (seemingly) not mixed properly because drug companies are barred by overseas governments from being involved and medical doctors are ethically barred from being involved.

      4. Yeah, cattle-gun to the brain stem seems to be pretty effective but I guess lacks the required degree of convolution and inefficiency for gubmint work.

    2. If we’re gonna have state executions, I vote electric chair, firing line, or a good ol’ fashioned hanging. Rope is cheap, and so’s a bullet.

    3. Firing squads leave behind mutilated corpses and the masses might start objecting to the whole executing people thing when they see pictures of what is being done in their name.

    4. I can’t figure out why they need these elaborate cocktails. Pharmacies are jammed with drugs that will kill you very peacefully after a massive OD. Hell, vet offices are jammed with drugs, etc.

      1. People might get addicted to morphine if you use that to execute people. 😀

  2. Speaking of drugs…but actually OT:
    Looks like GayJay has 11% in a Trump-Clinton matchup even though nobody knows who he is. Pulling about as much from both Clinton and Trump. If that gets up to 15%, he won’t even need a lawsuit to get into a main debate, and if he gets into a debate against those two, he will likely win. Even though he talks like a retard and looks like a muppet, against Hillary and Donald he’s got it in the bag.…..ce-agains/

    1. if he gets into a debate against those two, he will likely win.

      Hope springs eternal.

      1. I have just a tiny bit of optimism left in my body. Let me have it for a little longer.

  3. One of the drugs is glyphosate. True story.

  4. I am no doctor, but I don’t understand what’s so hard about knocking somebody out and stopping their heart. Can’t you just give them a sedative and fill the room with nitrogen?

    1. I’ve always wondered why we just don’t OD them on morphine. Let them die in the middle of the most beautiful dream they’ve ever had.

      1. Respiratory arrest isn’t necessarily pretty.

    2. 1. Oral versed
      2. IV
      3. Lidocaine
      4. Sufentanil
      5. Propofol
      6. Pancuronium
      7. Potassium chloride

      Pain/stress free. 100 percent lethal.

      1. I am both impressed and terrified by this knowledge.

        1. Walking the line of life and death is my trade.

    3. It’s because the drugs aren’t seemingly mixed properly (because they’re relying on unlicensed compounding pharmacies to do so) and medical doctors aren’t involved (wardens determine the doses of what may be inaccurately-labeled drugs).

      1. The point is (see Florida Hipster) you don’t need some elaborate custom-compounded cocktail. There are dozens of drugs that will put a person down humanely as can be with a simple massive overdose.

  5. “”Death Penalty Transparency””

    So would Public Hangings be Ok?

    Public Hangings if privately owned food trucks and carts were allowed?

  6. I bet it’s Four Loko and Pop Rocks.

  7. Missouri Ordered to Reveal the Source of Its Death Penalty Drugs

    “Oh, very well. PetSmart and Home Depot. Happy?”

  8. Why not just force them to drink water pumped from the Flint river. The city can sell the water to fix their problems. Two birds one stone

  9. Unless I’m mistaken, the rules involving non-disclosure of the executioners themselves was to prevent people from seeking retribution on them.

    Now, that being said, does this mean that harms done to a pharmacy or a pharmacist that works for them are somehow better or less likely to occur now that their executioners hood has been yanked off in full view of the public?

    Oh, duh, silly me. They don’t directly work for the state.

  10. lol, the kangaroo courts crack me up man.

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