Saslaw Lethal Injection Bill Defeated

A bill filed by State Sen. Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax/Falls Church) that would have added secrecy to the drugs used in Virginia’s lethal injection executions was defeated Tuesday afternoon in the House of Delegates. SB 1393 would have allowed the Department of Corrections to make and enter into contracts with an external entity to compound the drugs used to carry out lethal injection executions.

However the Virginia Press Association opposed the bill for its secrecy provisions. The bill ensured that the information relating to the identity of the entity compounding the drugs, the identities of persons or entities engaged to manufacture or supply the materials used to compound drug products for use in the execution, and the name of the materials or components used to compound drug products are exempt from Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act. Prior to the 56-42 vote to defeat the bill, according to the VPA, critics raised concerns about the secrecy provisions contained in it. Del. Rick Morris (R-Carrollton), said he supported the death penalty, but the issue was about transparent government.

Del. Scott A. Surovell (D-Fairfax), filed a FOIA request with the state’s corrections department for records related to drugs, execution protocols and other issues. Surovell said the department denied his request, but a Fairfax County judge ordered the documents released. The department appealed and the state Supreme Court will take up the appeal by June.

Saslaw argued that shielding the identity of companies compounding the drugs is necessary for safety. He also said that companies would not make these drugs if the public knew they were doing so.