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Louisiana Got Its Lethal Injection Drugs From a Hospital Under False Pretenses

No wonder the state was fighting for more secrecy.
August 8, 2014, 1:30pm

Back in May, a bill was sailing through Louisiana's state government , which would have allowed the Department of Corrections to keep the source of their lethal injection drugs secret. They said this was to protect the source. Following a botched execution in Oklahoma, State Rep. Joe Lopinto scraped the legislation that he had introduced, saying he "didn't know where this was going to lead us."

Well, the source of the state's supply of hydromorphone was revealed, and it's now clear that Lopinto's legislation wasn't about protecting the source. It was for protecting the state and protecting its supply.

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Because the source of the hydromorphone was a fucking hospital, one that claims it had no idea that's what the hydromorphone was for, as The Lens reports.

That's where the secrecy the state had lead them, Joe.

A lawsuit challenging the state's lethal injection practices revealed that the state bought 20 vials of hydromorphone from Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, a week before it was going to execute Christopher Sepulvado, who was sentenced to death for the 1993 killing of his six-year-old stepson.

The drugs were sent to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center's medical unit, a "medical facility for seriously or chronically ill offenders." But the hospital never inquired what the drugs were for.

"We assumed the drug was for one of their patients, so we sent it. We did not realize what the focus was," Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, board member for the private, nonprofit hospital and chief judge of the Third Circuit Court of Appeal,  told The Lens.

"Had we known of the real use, we never would have done it," Thibodeaux added.

Hydromorphone is a painkiller used fairly commonly in hospitals. It is also, along with midazolam, part of the two-drug lethal injection cocktail, which was used in botched executions in Ohio and Arizona this year. Louisiana had changed its lethal injection protocol to use the two-drug cocktail for Sepulvado's execution, which has since been postponed to an undetermined date.

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In addition to drug companies who are either forbidden from selling drugs for executions or uninterested in being associated with capital punishment, medical personnel and hospitals are refusing to participate as well.

So I guess that's why Louisiana had it sent to their infirmary, and didn't specify what it was for. Did Lake Charles practice due diligence? Probably not.

Oddly enough, the involved parties are now all on the public record. For all their bluster about keeping the source of the drugs safe, when the state presented the documentation of the hydromorphone, it didn't bother to redact the name of the pharmacist who filled the order .

It probably won't make a difference, other than making Lake Charles Memorial Hospital and other hospitals more wary of dealing with their states. But then the states keep finding ways to both do the executions, and, because they are right on the fringe of legality, to keep them as hidden as possible.

Still, if the state can't find a way to perform executions without breaking the law, then that would mean that executions aren't legal and have to be stopped. But it will likely take a Supreme Court ruling to end the death penalty in America. Until then, states will be working under a veil secrecy and fighting to keep it that way.