Texas Attorney General Says State Can Keep Execution Drug Sources Secret

Greg Abbott’s statement comes in the wake of a nationwide debate about states’ secrecy surrounding the drugs used in executions.

1. Texas Attorney General and Republican nominee for governor, Greg Abbott, said Thursday that the state does not have to disclose the sources of lethal injection drugs used in executions.

Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram / MCT

2. The decision marked a reversal from Abbott, who had rejected three similar attempts by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to keep the sources of the drugs secret since 2010.

Handout / Reuters

Texas, the state with the most active death chamber, has refused to disclose the source of its new batch of pentobarbital, only revealing that it came from a “licensed compounding pharmacy within the United States.”

3. The department has argued that maintaining secrecy about the drug’s suppliers was necessary to protect the company from threats of violence.

Richard Carson / Reuters

However, the Associated Press reported in April that there was little evidence from Texas prison officials to support their claim that such suppliers would be in danger of violence if their identities were made public.

4. In a May 12 brief, Abbott, while opposing the request to stop inmate Robert James Campbell’s execution, said that pentobarbital had been successfully used in 33 executions in Texas.

AP Photo/Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Dismissing Campbell’s lawyers’ argument that his execution could be torturous in light of Oklahoma’s botched lethal injection in April, Abbott said that Texas’ execution protocol was “vastly different” from Oklahoma’s where a new protocol was being used.

Campbell’s lawyers had filed an appeal to halt his execution on the grounds that the state did not disclose enough information about the source of the drugs to ensure a humane, non-torturous execution.

5. Abbott’s latest decision was in response to an open records request filed ahead of the April executions of serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells (pictured below) and convicted killer Ramiro Hernandez-Llans.

AP Photo/Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Their attorneys said that that the state’s refusal to name the supplier of the latest batch of pentobarbital violated the inmates’ rights and asked Abott to step in after their appeals in court were turned down.

Abbott’s decision is likely to be appealed in court which means it won’t take immediate effect.

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Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com.