Lethal injections could be on hold in AL after bill fails in leg - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Lethal injections could be on hold in AL after bill fails in legislature

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Lawmakers failed to pass a measure in the waning hours of the legislative session that would have kept information about lethal injections secret from the public.

Supporters of the bill argued that keeping by keeping the manufacturers and drugs themselves secret, the state could secure a reliable supply of the drugs needed to conduct lethal injections.

Last month the Department Corrections and the Office of the Attorney General confirmed that the state has exhausted its supply of drugs required to conduct lethal injections.

Department of Corrections Commissioner Kim Thomas said he was disappointed by the legislature's failure to pass the death penalty secrecy bill.

Now the state of Alabama could be in a position where it won't be able to carry out executions by lethal injections because its supply of the drugs used in the procedure has run out.

"We could be going back to a system of using the electric chair" said Sen. Cam Ward who sponsored the bill in the Alabama Senate. "There has to be a more humane way."

The Alabama Department of Corrections retired its electric chair, known as "Yellow Mama" for its paint color, back in 2002.

The controversy over the drugs used in lethal injections has become a recent issue. Back in January, a death row inmate's execution was botched when he was still alive during a lethal injection after 30 minutes on the table.

"We can't have what happened in Ohio happen here" Sen. Ward, R-Alabaster, said on the Senate floor last week.

European drug manufacturers have also stopped supplying one of the key drugs, pentobarbital, to US states that intend to use it for lethal injections.

Pentobarbital is a chemical that's used to stop the breathing of the person being injected.

Death penalty supporters have said that the state has an obligation to keep the identities of the companies that supply drugs a secret. Some compounding pharmacies and chemical manufacturers have reported threats of harm against them and their families.

"We owe it to them and their families" to keep the names and identities secret, said House sponsor Rep. Lynn Greer.

Democrats opposed to the death penalty said the state shouldn't keep anything secret about the death penalty secret.

Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greene, said, "I'm not for the death penalty personally but if they've been served and they get the death penalty then I think who are administering the drugs in terms of who doing it? I think that should be public."

Singleton added that the public should know what the state is doing with its tax dollars in all circumstances and efforts to restrict that should be cut off.

"We talk transparency a lot around here about everything and if we're going to be transparent on everything else let's be transparent on this" Greene said.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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