Attorney General Koster Thinks Missouri Should Make Its Own Execution Drugs

Categories: Death Penalty

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Attorney General Chris Koster.
Should Missouri cut pharmacies out of executions entirely and fund its own lab to develop lethal-injection drug cocktails? Attorney General Chris Koster thinks so.

Speaking to a law conference in Lake of the Ozarks on Thursday, Koster -- a leading Democratic candidate in Missouri's 2016 gubernatorial race -- said executing convicted criminals is too weighty a task to entrust to unregulated pharmacies that profit from executions and operate without any oversight.

"For Missouri to maintain lethal injection as its preferred method of execution, it is my belief the legislature should remove market-driven participants and pressures from the system at the earliest opportunity," Koster said. "As a matter of policy, Missouri should not be reliant on merchants whose identities must be shielded from public view or who can exercise unacceptable leverage over this profound state act."

See also: How the Supreme Court Makes Last-Minute Decisions on Missouri Executions

Koster says he wants the Missouri Legislature to set aside funds to build a state-operated, DEA-licensed laboratory to produce supplies of execution drugs. (You can read Koster's entire speech on the death penalty here.)

"Eliminating outside business interests from Missouri's execution protocol would improve the high level of public transparency that is demanded in the exercise of this extraordinary state power," Koster said.

It's not the first time Koster has offered a solution to Missouri's dwindling number of ways to execute prisoners. Last summer, he suggested using a gas chamber to execute two death-row inmates before the state supply of propofol expired.

See also: Death Penalty: Chris Koster Says Gas Chamber May Be Only Option Due To Legal Battles

Missouri has executed six people in the last six months. There are 42 death row inmates in Missouri, Koster says, including fourteen who have exhausted their appeals, and the state Supreme Court is scheduling one execution per month.

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Russell Bucklew.
Missouri's most recent execution attempt stopped before it really started. The U.S. Supreme Court halted the execution with hours to spare, eventually ordering the case to return to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals for reevaluation.

See also: Russell Bucklew: Supreme Court Delays First Execution Since Botched Oklahoma Case

Missouri had to change its execution protocol late last year when European pharmacies threatened to boycott selling to America if their drugs were to be used in executions. The new rules allow pharmacies to compound the state's execution drugs with no regulation from the U.S. Food and Drug administration and no public accountability.

"Anonymity of the executioner has been an accepted element of this process since the days of the hooded hangman," Koster says. "Before, the hangman's hood covered only those present and participating in an execution. Now, it covers merchants who sell the state its lethal drugs, wherever and whenever those transactions may occur."

Local and national news outlets are suing the Missouri Department of Corrections over its restrictive secrecy. The way the rules are written, a journalist who publishes identifying information about Missouri's execution team -- including the pharmacy that provides the execution drug -- would be punished.

"Simply put, the Missouri Department of Corrections is empowered to kill," Koster said. "It does so as an extension of our collective will. The method and transparency by which it conducts that act should, therefore, concern all of us deeply."

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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9 comments
Michael J Keller
Michael J Keller

Alexandra: This might be a lil hunch, a d I'm not much of a betting man, but I'd be willing to place a fat wager on the fact that one of the victims of the murder's that are death row is not *your* relative, eh? If one of their victims was your young 8 yr old daughter who was nabbed while walking to school, she was brutally raped and murdered, I want you to go ahead on and trust me when I say that the song you are singing would, indeed, be very different than that crap that you are now spewing. It is a sad fact, indeed, that without making the situation very real in your world, you cannot see why sometimes - a - a lot of times, in fact - there ain't nuttin' better that can be served to a murder that a lil of that tried and true "an eye for an eye" thing - if you know what I mean, and it's kinda too bad for you if you don't!!

Tim Baylard
Tim Baylard

Firing squad. American made bullets. Problem solved.

Zach Samples
Zach Samples

Neither is bleach. Also, leaves the corpse smelling like a hotel pool!

Frank Corona
Frank Corona

Chuckie, at it again. Always trying to kill people.

Chris Bergh
Chris Bergh

We should test it on that sociopath Koster first.

Lucas Adams
Lucas Adams

Poison production. Really? What a waste

Alexandra Lugger
Alexandra Lugger

Ya know, if you're all gung ho about killing someone, why don't you just shoot them or something? I find it hilarious that we're searching for a, "humane," way to end a life. Seems to me putting someone on death row for years, letting them live that time knowing their exact date of death, walking them to the room, strapping them down and putting needles in their arms seems pretty inhumane to me. Why not just walk in the cell while they're asleep and pop 'em execution style? I mean.... if you agree with that sort of thing...

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