Missouri’s secretive execution protocols are facing more scrutiny

Botched executions in three other states have led to more scrutiny of Missouri’s execution methods – including the state’s secretive cocktail of drugs it uses to execute individuals on death row.

On Wednesday, St. Louis Pubic Radio reported that contrary to what Department of Corrections officials have said, Missouri has used Midazolam – a sedative used in all of the three botched executions elsewhere – in the nine execution here since November 2014.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, who has defended the state’s execution policies in the past, was asked about the story by reporters on Wednesday near the end of a press availability in Columbia. As the question was being asked, he reached into his pocket, unfolded a piece of paper, and then began reading a statement directly from it.

“The executions are conducted by the department of corrections according to their execution protocol. It’s been reviewed numerous times by the courts, everybody here knows. The protocol provides for the use of sedatives in advance of the execution. These sedatives aren’t part of the actual execution, which since last november has been conducted with the single drug, Pentobarbital,” he said. “There are sedatives earlier, but they aren’t part of the execution protocol.”

According to the report, Midazolam is being used in Missouri despite the fact that Director of the Department of Corrections George has testified under oath that Midazolam would never be used in an execution here.

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