Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster (D) advocated on Thursday for the creation of a state-run facility devoted to making chemicals used to carry out the death penalty by lethal injection, NBC News reported.
“In recent years, this cooperative arrangement has become so strained that continued use of lethal injection as the preferred execution method is currently being reconsidered in several states,” Koster said during remarks at the ar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis’ annual meeting. “The legislature should remove market-driven participants and pressures from the system and appropriate funds to establish a state-operated, DEA-licensed, laboratory to produce the execution chemicals in our state.”
Koster described the relationship between state officials, pharmaceutical companies willing to make chemicals for the lethal mix and medical professionals as an “uneasy cooperation.”
“Missouri should not be reliant on merchants whose identities must be shielded from public view or who can exercise unacceptable leverage over this profound state act,” he said.
The Associated Press reported that Missouri still purchases its injection chemicals from “compounding pharmacies,” while state law allows it to keep the ingredients a secret. The AP and four newspapers in the state have filed a lawsuit calling for officials to reveal the substances used in the lethal mix.
Koster is currently the leading Democratic Party candidate to run for the governor’s office in 2016 and has reportedly already raised more than $2 million for his campaign. His remarks come just over a week after the Supreme Court stayed the execution of Russell Bucklew in his state.
Attorneys for Bucklew, who was sentenced to death on double-murder charges in 1996, argued that their client would suffer “hemorrhaging, suffocating, and excruciating pain” due to cavernous hemangioma, a medical condition that causes tumors and bleeding to his face.
In a separate ruling on May 19, a federal court determined that the state did not have to reveal what chemicals it wanted to use in the injection for Bucklew’s execution.
“The proposal for creating a state lab appears to be off the cuff and leaves many unanswered questions, including regulation of the lab, public oversight, even what protocol the state would be using,” Bucklew’s attorney, Cheryl Pilate, said regarding Koster’s proposal.
Several U.S. states have been forced to find new combinations for their injections in the face of dwindling supplies.
But the push to both use new lethal injecion ingredients and keep them a secret from prisoners and the public was brought into the public spotlight earlier this month after the execution of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett went horribly awry, causing the process to last 43 minutes.
[Image via Chris Koster for Attorney General campaign official Facebook page]