TALLAHASSEE – States across the country have been experiencing a shortage of the drug or drugs used in lethal injections, sometimes in part because of a public outcry and a manufacturer’s desire not to have their products used to carry out an execution.
On Tuesday, a Florida Senate committee voted to keep the names of companies and their drugs out of the public record.
Serial killer Gary Bowles was the last person executed in Florida. It was August 2019.
Now, state lawmakers are moving to keep the name of pharmaceutical companies and the drugs they supply to the state from public records. Sen. Doug Broxson, R-Pensacola, is the sponsor.
“It insures DOC will be able to obtain the drugs to carry out their constitutional requirements,” Broxson told the Senate Rules Committee.
But the request was not without opposition. Kristi Arnold spoke for the Florida Catholic Conference of Bishops.
“Drug manufacturers widely voice their moral opposition to the use of their life saving drugs for the application of the death penalty, and they have litigated when their contracts are breached by suppliers anyway,” Arnold told the committee.
In addition to opposing the death penalty, Pharmacist Michael McQuone said the drug being used to kill is better off left in hospitals.
“They continue to be at critical levels because they are being used by hospitalized patients, particularly patients on ventilators” said McQuone.
State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, argued the information should remain public.
“The place we should be the most public and the most open is when we are taking a human life,” said Brandes.
But the committee didn’t agree.
And if Florida resumes executions in the future, the next one will be the 100th since the state resumed executing people in 1979.
Afterward, Broxson was unhappy the bill became about the death penalty and not the drug being used.
“This is an effective way to do what sorely have to do,” said Broxson. “And we want to make sure it is available for the DOC to use in the future.”
And Tuesday began with 314 men and three women on Florida’s death row.
Opponents say the goal of keeping the information secret is to keep public pressure off the companies who supply the drugs. Of the 317 people on death row, all but one have chosen lethal injection over the electric chair.