Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Executioner secrecy bill passes Senate

Attorney Generalissimo Jim Hood issued the following press release:

Attorney General Jim Hood Applauds Senate Passage of Senate Bill 2237

Jackson, Miss.- Attorney General Jim Hood applauded the Mississippi Senate today for approving a measure intended to protect the safety of the individuals responsible for carrying out executions.

Senate Bill 2237 would protect the identities of the state executioner and members of the execution team, and would also keep confidential the names of the local supplier or suppliers of lethal injection drugs located in the State of Mississippi. The bill was drafted by the Attorney General’s Office, and it is part of the Attorney General’s legislative agenda.

Attorney General Hood praised the leadership of Sen. Sean Tindell, who guided the bill through committee and handled the bill on the Senate floor today. Tindell, of Gulfport, is chairman of the Senate Judiciary-A Committee. The Attorney General also thanked Sen. Joey Fillingane of Sumrall, who sponsored the bill.

“We’ve had honest, hard-working Mississippi residents who have refused to work on the execution team because of fear for the safety of their families and concerns about retaliation inside and outside the prison,” Attorney General Hood said. “As long as we have the death penalty in Mississippi, we have a responsibility to protect the state employees who assist in carrying out executions. The businesses that agree to supply lethal injection drugs must also be free from the intimidation and strong-arm tactics of some anti-death penalty activists.”

Attorney General Hood said U.S. District Judge W. Allen Pepper Jr. recognized the importance of confidentiality in 2011, when he issued a protective order shielding names of the execution team from litigants in a lawsuit. The judge at the time said the team faced the possibility of harassment and retaliation.

“In instances like this, it’s important to weigh the public’s right to know versus the potential risk of harm to those who are merely doing their jobs and following state law,” Attorney General Hood said. “This is one of those very rare cases where there is a greater benefit to keeping some information confidential.”

Out of an abundance of respect for the families of murder victims, the bill also protects the identities of witnesses of the victim’s or the inmate’s family if they wish to remain confidential.

The bill passed 32-18. It is currently being held in the Senate on a motion to reconsider.


Anonymous said...

I'm shocked that Mississippi hasn't had such protection in the law!

Anonymous said...

Didn't Hitler and Stalin endorse secret executions? Is this still America?

Anonymous said...

Is prior restraint even constitutional?

Kingfish said...

So protecting the executioner's name so crazies or family members can't seek revenge is akin to Hitler and Stalin? Wow.

Nuff2Say said...

Didn't Hitler and Stalin endorse secret executions? Is this still America?

Really 7:35??

Get your head out of your ____... this is NOT secret executions. ALL executions carried out by MDOC are not secret. This is to protect the ones that has the task to do so. Go back to sleep and snuggle up to stokes!

Victor Fleitas said...

So, public officials performing government functions on the tax payer dime can have their identities kept a secret from the public because they might have to hear from citizens who object to what they do. Sounds anti-democratic to me.

What are the legislative findings which make such a statute so necessary now? I know they call this a safety measure. What's the actual present danger as opposed to a hypothetical possibility of future wrongdoing directed at executioners? Is there a significant history of attacks or homicides of executioners inn Mississippi or elsewhere in the United States?

Truth is this is an effort to disguise the identity of the corporate providers of the compounded drugs or importers of illegal drugs from overseas, from a marketplace reaction due to public awareness of their involvement in this activity. The public employees are an afterthought to put a human face on the government's desire to wrap their actions in a veil of secrecy free from the public's prying eyes.

If a "executioner" or part of an "execution team" is subjected to unlawful behavior there are laws in place to protect them now. Secrecy is not the answer.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, It's a step down the path toward secret executions. That's not why America was founded. Plain and simple. We are an open society.....good, bad and ugly.

If there are real threats to these folks' lives, then they are entitled to 24/7 security for their protection in my opinion. This solution might actually fix the perceived problem. It's not the execution team consists of 20 people...probably more like 3 or 4 people tops.

Let's not forget this is an amendment to the public records act. The bill attempts to exempt the records from the public. These are records owned by me, you and every other member of society. Identities of all public employees (even part time contractors such as executioners) should be public because they are paid by the public...period.

Anonymous said...

It is definitely a step in the direction of Hitler and Stalin, even if it's a very small step.
Next we should ban coverage of the arrests and trials in cases where the death penalty may be on the table. Perhaps a "crazy" might come after the arresting officer or the judges.
I read reports of those things regularly, but I don't recall ever reading an article that listed the names of the executioners.

Anonymous said...

This is 100% about keeping the compounding pharmacies' identities out of public view and protecting them from lawsuits. As much as I hate stupid lawsuits, the court system should be allowed to do what it is set up to do.....provide justice. If someone wants to file suit against the compounding pharmacies and the court thinks the suit has merit and rules in favor of the plaintiffs...then justice is served. If the judge rules in favor of the defendants...then justice is served. But justice is not served when the pharmacies's identities are exempt from public review....pharmacies which are paid with my tax dollars.

I have a freakin' right to now who is being paid with public funds just like everyone has a right to know how much sales tax rebate money Mattiace made from the Renaissance development. Secrecy is bs.

Anonymous said...

When prosecuting dangerous criminals that would kill without hesitation, I assessed the risk and did my job. If someone wants the executioner position, they should assess the risk and then decide if they want the job.

Anonymous said...

9:18, exactly!!!! If an execution team member has a hang up with disclosure of their identity, then he or she should find another job.

This bill gives me visions of the hooded ax-wielding executioner from the 1300s.

You know during the great Soviet purge during WW II by Stalin, executions were rarely acknowledged yet millions were still murdered.

Anonymous said...

7:48 here. Prior restraint limits the press's ability to report who and what they see....that's what this bill now does. This part of the execution secrecy bill will die a painful death in court if it becomes law. First Amendment comes 1st in the bill of rights for a reason.

Kingfish, certainly you couldn't favor something as outrageous as prior restraint?

Anonymous said...

Yea, this non disclosure of identity stuff is a slippery slope. We have it with confidential informants, abuse/neglect reporting, witnesses relocation, sex assault victims, juvenile offenders .... oh.

Anonymous said...

10:24, executioners are consenting adults who want to have the job title of "executioner". They sought out the job not the other way around. They are compensated to do this job. The public has a right know who they are and that they exist.

They also put their big boy britches in each morning.

Anonymous said...

All you anti-protection of executioner get over this. Also, blogger go to the library more. Stalin executed millions & millions of soviets by selectively starving them to death (Artificial Famines).Executions in the US are rare that why crime is out of control. I’m an executioner. I prefer to be called a Society Justice Administrator (SJA). We draw lots for the assignment. Death threats & protest are a form of intimidation used by protesters to get try & their agenda across. We get them all the time. We don't wear hoods or Axes.If you ever attended an execution you see us using a syringe.I repeat you see us. Veni, O Sapientia, quae hic disponis omnia, veni, viam prudentiae ut doceas et gloriae

Anonymous said...

11:09, if you have a problem with threats because of your employment, please find some other line of work. No one is forcing you to become an executioner.

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of actions by government that are not 'open' activities and available thru public records acts. There are good reasons for most of them. The fact that overseas companies are not willing to sell the drugs for executions because they oppose the death penalty laws of this country has led to this. Lawsuits against in country companies has led to this next step. If the state (and others) can't purchase the drugs, we could go back to the gas chamber. Or firing squads. Or electric chairs.

Stopping the purchase of drugs would eliminate the most humane of this (agreed, non-humane because it does take a life) statute's requirements. But we do have death penalty laws and this allows those laws to be fulfilled.

And protecting the companies that assist the state in prosecuting those laws is required because of the folks who (obviously in the minority since the law hasn't changed in this state) want to stymie the state in fulfilling their duties.

Those of you that think the execution team should be 'exposed' should read the facts from 11:09. They have a job to do that the state has hired them to do. They should not be subject to death threats and protests just because they do those duties.

Would you say the same thing for the folks who infiltrate drug dealers operations? Should we make their names available for public record. Should we make available for all those that think all records should be transparent of the tools that we purchase to fight drug dealers? Same could be said for some members of the military; and some of the tools that they use. Hey, for two decades our country never admitted to having U-2 spy planes used during the cold war. I for one support that kind of 'secrecy'.

Victor Fleitas said...

To roughly translate @ 11:09:

"O come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,
And order all things far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go."

It's interersting to me that 11:09 would quote from a portion of a Catholic Advent Hymn to support his position on capital punishment. The Catholic Church's policy on this matter and the Pope's recent pronouncement seeking a government moratorium on all executions during the Jubilee year are unequivocal.

No problem with an individual disagreeing with Church doctrine, just not sure I would cite an Advent Hymn for any kind of support of the death penalty.

I would choose this part (translated) of the same Hymn instead:

"O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid every strife and quarrel cease
And fill the world with heaven's peace."

Anonymous said...

11:27 AM I love my job. I feel I'm doing the LORD work.
Always remember we are a Society of Laws; Not mob or dictator rule.

Matt 3:12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Idiom: Separate the wheat from the chaff

Prov. to separate what is useful or valuable from what is worthless.

Anonymous said...

11:42, just get these 3 or 4 public employees some security (and their families too) and be done with it.

Are judges and law enforcement also not subjected to threats? Should we make their identities exempt from the public record?

This is plain silly. The public record is the public's record.

Anonymous said...

"Truth is this is an effort to disguise the ... corporate providers of the compounded drugs ... The public employees are an afterthought to put a human face on the government's desire to wrap their actions in a veil..."

Bingo! The AG has begged compounding pharmacies to provide this service and sworn they would do everything they could to hide their identities.

Problem is the law allows the use of drugs to kill people. I'm not a fan of Hood, but he's is in a tough spot trying to find suppliers to fill the state's laws.

Anonymous said...

Bullets do not cost that much and are very easy to find.
Bring back firing squads.

Anonymous said...

11:57 AM Excellent job Victor, I'll buy you a pint at The Bulldog
tonight at 8 PM. It's does sound like a oxymoron, for example, cruel kindness, however, their are millions of Catholics that take birth control, i.e. not everyone follows the Pope totally. Like 10:36 AM
said: Someone has to put their big boy britches in each morning. Another example is the Armed Services they kill (execute) enemies of the United States every day. No one has a problem with that. We must stop the rotting of society from the inside.

Anonymous said...

Why be concerned with keeping compounding pharmacies out of the public view? The simple solution to the problem would be to execute by public hanging. No one could sue the manufacturer of hemp rope for making a product which has many uses and it did a very effective job of carrying out the sentence of the courts for many years.

Anonymous said...

10:36, you are very wrong. Look at all of the law suits against gun manufactures and ammo manufacturers. Rope manufactures would be in court every day.

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