Texas has obtained a new batch of the drugs it uses to execute death row inmates, allowing the state to continue carrying out death sentences once its existing supply expires at the end of the month.
But correction officials will not say where they bought the drugs, arguing that information must be kept secret to protect the safety of its new supplier. In interviews with The Associated Press, officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice also refused to say whether providing anonymity to its new supplier of the sedative pentobarbital was a condition of its purchase.
The decision to keep details about the drugs and their source secret puts the agency at odds with past rulings of the state attorney general's office, which has said the state's open records law requires the agency to disclose specifics about the drugs it uses to carry out lethal injections.
Texas law does not specifically spell out whether officials can refuse to make the name of drug suppliers public, but Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's office has on three occasions rejected arguments by the agency that disclosing that information would put the drug supply and manufacturers at risk.
In a 2012 opinion, his office rejected the argument that disclosing the inventory would allow others to figure out the state's suppliers, dismissing the same kind of security concerns raised this week.
"Upon review, while we acknowledge the department's concerns, we find you have not established disclosure of the responsive information would create a substantial threat of physical harm to any individual," Assistant Attorney General Sean Opperman wrote.
Clark said the prison agency planned to ask Abbott to reconsider the issue.
The Houston Chronicle reports, "New shipment of legal drugs allows state to continue executions," by Allan Turner.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has received a new shipment of the lethal drug used in executions, allowing it to continue putting convicted killers to death through mid-May.
Prisons spokesman Jason Clark on Wednesday said the agency would have run out of pentobarbital, commonly used to euthanize pets, after two executions scheduled this month.
Three prisoners are scheduled to be executed in April; Harris County killer Robert Campbell is scheduled for execution on May 13.
Time posts, "Texas Officials Get More Execution Drugs, But Won’t Say How," by David Stout.
Earlier coverage of Texas from Texas begins with the preceding post. Also available, more on the state's lethal injection issues. Related posts are in the lethal injection and open records category indexes.