Open Government

Legislators Plan Sneak Attack for Secret Executions

11.19.14

UPDATE: On November 19, 2014, the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee voted 9 to 4 to approve House Bill 663. The bill then went before the full Ohio House of Representatives on November 20, 2014, where it passed 61 to 25. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee voted to approve the bill on December, 11, 2014. Key majority party legislators were replaced on the committee in order to pass the bill. Although the bill was greatly amended during the committee process by removing several unjust components, the secrecy provisions still remain in place and the ACLU of Ohio remains adamantly opposed. The full Senate passed the amended bill on December, 11, 2014 with a vote of 20 to 10. HB 663 will now be sent back to the full House for a vote.

It’s no secret that Ohio has had major problems with executions. In under a decade, there have been four botched executions. Now legislators want to make sure the public and certain legal counsel will be kept in the dark about what happens in the execution chamber, shrouding all aspects of lethal injections in secrecy.

Whether you agree with the death penalty or not, we all must agree that executions must adhere to our Constitution and basic human decency. By removing all transparency and accountability, it will be impossible for us to know whether lethal injections are humane and legal.

For more information, please read ACLU of Ohio Testimony against House Bill 663 before the Ohio House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee, and listen to The Civil Liberties Minute: Secret Executions in America podcast.

Secrecy only undermines public trust. The stakes are especially high because Ohio wants to use unregulated compounding pharmacies to supply lethal injection drugs. These companies’ drugs are not monitored for safety and efficacy, meaning another botched execution is even more likely.

We don’t need more problems with our executions and a hastily passed secrecy bill is a recipe for disaster.