The American Civil Liberties Union and four newspapers have asked a federal judge to unseal court records in an attempt to learn where Pennsylvania corrections officials purchased the drugs that will be used to execute death row inmates.
The state chapter of the ACLU, The Guardian, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Philadelphia City Paper are asking state courts to unseal documents that would reveal how, and from whom, the state obtained the drugs it planned to use to execute Hubert Michael Jr.. Michael's September 22 execution was stayed by Governor Tom Corbett, according to the Los Angeles Times. His execution would have been the first in Pennsylvania in 15 years.
The suit also seeks to grant the public access to documents about the suppliers of drugs used in future state executions.
Pennsylvania has not carried out and involuntary execution in more than 50 years. In the modern era of the death penalty Pennsylvania has executed three men. All three gave up their appeal rights and volunteered to be executed.
“In light of the recent string of horrifically botched executions, the public is entitled to know how the state obtained the drugs they plan to use to carry out executions here in Pennsylvania,” Reggie Shuford, executive director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the ACLU, said in a statement.
The Pennsylvania lawsuit comes in the wake of a series of botched executions that have escalated the national debate over the use of the death penalty and the drugs most states employ when executing death row inmates.
There are currently 184 people on death row in Pennsylvania.
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