By Joshua Albert
Today the ACLU on behalf of Philadelphia City Paper, along with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post- Gazette, and GuardianUS, filed a lawsuit to reveal the supplier of the drugs that would be used to kill Hubert Michael, Jr, who is scheduled to be executed in just 11 days.
Hubert Michael, Jr will be the first person executed in Pennsylvania in 15 years.
The lawsuit comes at a time when the death penalty is under increased scrutiny due to reports of several torturous executions. Lethal injection, the primary method used for carrying out executions, relied on 3 FDA approved drugs, one of which, pentobarbital, is used as a sedative for people set to die. The drug however is no longer available in the US because the European Union has put a ban on exporting it to the United States, primarily because of our highly controversial death penalty practices.
The lack of availability of the drug here in the US has forced executioners to find new drugs that will sedate the condemned, but only the prisoner set to die is allowed to know what’s in them, a fact the four publications and ACLU have issues with.
From City Paper:
“The information sought by our clients is central to today’s debate about capital punishment,” said ACLU of Pennsylvania senior staff attorney Mary Catherine Roper in a statement. “If the drugs are not made properly, they will not work properly, and the public should be very concerned about that possibility given the gruesome executions we have heard about in other states.”
The DOC has said that the reason they do not want to reveal the name of the supplier of the drugs that will be used to kill Michael is out of fear of backlash which could result in a stoppage of distribution from the manufacturer, effectively leaving the DOC without the tools needed to carry out executions.