Death Penalty Details Withheld

As high court weighs lethal injection, actual methods are shrouded in secrecy
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2008 8:56 AM CST
The Texas death chamber is shown May 19, 2000, in Huntsville, Texas. Michael Rodriguez, one of the notorious Texas Seven, a group of inmates who escaped from state prison in 2000 and killed a police officer...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – With a landmark case coming before the Supreme Court today on lethal injection, the Los Angeles Times examines the unusual secrecy that shrouds the execution method. Defense lawyers who argue that it inflicts unnecessary pain are routinely blocked from information about executioners and the drugs injected. States say such information needs to be kept secret for the safety of prison personnel.

State officials claim that revealing details about lethal injections would enable anti-death-penalty "crazies" to hound those who administer the shots. Critics counter that untrained employees administer the drugs sloppily, not giving enough painkillers to prevent agonizing pain. Prominent Kentucky veterinarians say the state's drug cocktail does not even meet legal standards for putting down animals humanely.