Law Proposed to Shield Sales of Lethal Injection Drugs

The South Carolina Senate is considering a bill, that would shield the identities of pharmaceutical companies selling lethal injection drugs to S.C.


COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – The South Carolina Senate is considering a bill, that would shield the identities of pharmaceutical companies selling lethal injection drugs to South Carolina.

Currently, the state is unable to execute inmates on death row by lethal injection, because the drug companies refuse to sell them the drugs. If an inmate’s execution is ordered, it will not be performed, unless that inmate elects to die by the electric chair.

The proposed law is supposed to protect companies so they’re more likely to sell their drugs to South Carolina.

“Once we tell them what the drugs are gonna be used for, and who we are, the conversation stops,” S.C. Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said.

The state’s supply of chemicals to perform lethal injections ran out in 2013, and law requires their drugs to be fresh. Stirling, who has served as director since October 2013, has had experts researching this ever since. He says, similar law have proven successful in Georgia and Oklahoma, and he wants to be ready if the South Carolina supreme court orders an execution.

Columbia-based non-profit Justice 360, said that hasn’t happened yet, and it’s not going to happen any time soon.

“There are currently no pending executions in the state,” Justice 360 Executive Director Mandy Medlock said. “There are no executions on hold. So there’s really no urgency.”

Justice 360 tracks the status of death row inmates. The group handles appeals for about half of them. Medlock said the earliest an execution would be ordered would be three years from now.

Medlock said if this law becomes a reality, it would limit the public’s ability to know how the department is spending its tax-dollars. She also says it would hinder any outside investigation into a botched execution.

“There would be no way to track how that mistake happened and how to prevent it again,” she said.

Stirling says the Attorney General’s office says there could be an execution as early as this summer. Stirling says the bill would function as a shield law.

“This is just a tool we could use to go and present to the companies that would possibly sell us drugs and say you will be protected,” Stirling said. “I feel like until we have this law, the companies are not going to talk to us.”

There are 42 inmates on South Carolina’s death row. All of them are at various points in the appeals process. The last execution in South Carolina took place in 2011.

State Senator Mike Fair was one of the lawmakers who proposed the bill. He’s now joined with Senator Brad Hutto to propose an amendment to legalize the use of nitrogen gas in executions.

Categories: State