The legislature is being asked to set up a special commission to establish the right way to execute prisoners.
Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus says, “If any governmental action other than the death penalty was carried out with this kind of secrecy, members of this General Assembly would be lining up to call for investigations and transparency; budgets would be hijacked and hearings would be held.”
Justus says the Corrections Department’s secrecy about the execution drug it uses, the source of it, and the questionable legality of its use are behind her call for formation of an eleven-member Capital sentencing Procedures and Protocols Commission.
Her bill has been filed a few hours before the scheduled execution of Herbert Smulls. “From the little information the public has gathered, the Department of Corrections will execute Mr. Smulls using expired drugs that were illegally compunded out of state, paid for in cash and transported to Missouri in violation of state and federal laws. If there is more to this story, we will not know because state officials refuse to release this information to the public,” she says.
Justus says nobody, even death penalty supporters, should allow Missouri government to execute inmates on behalf of the people of the state through secret, cash transactions for illegal drugs.
Her commission would be made up of the Attorney General, a current or retired public defender, a sitting or retired prosecutor, an active member of the Missouri Bar, two physicians, two pharmacists, two judges, and a person appointed by the governor.
The legislature has repeatedly refused to consider any legislation changing death penalty procedures. Justus admits she does not know if her proposal stands a chance in this year’s session.