MOSCOW, September 12 (RIA Novosti) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU) has issued a plea to the US government to open records about the drugs used in executions in the state of Pennsylvania.
"The ACLU of Pennsylvania, on behalf of four newspapers, including the Guardian, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the Philadelphia City Paper, has asked a federal judge to unseal court records that contain information about the source of the drugs used for lethal injections in Pennsylvania", a statement published on the union's website Thursday said, adding, "The first execution in 15 years in the commonwealth could occur as soon as September 22. The newspapers seeking this information argue that keeping that information under seal violates their First Amendment rights."
The ACLU stated that because the Federal Drug Administration-approved version of the starting drug for execution, pentobarbital, is not sold to correction departments, states can only purchase them from a compounding pharmacy through a special order. But since there is less control exercised over compounding pharmacies than on pharmaceutical companies, the ACLU doubts the substances that the compounded drugs contain.
"In light of the recent string of horrifically botched executions, the public is entitled to know how the state obtained the drugs they plan to use to carry out executions here in Pennsylvania," Reggie Shuford, ACLU Pennsylvania's executive director, said.
The ACLU filed the claim following a number of complicated executions in Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona, where two people to be executed gasped for air for over 20 minutes and tried to speak for over 40 minutes, while another gasped 650 times and took nearly two hours to die.