Death penalty opponents hail execution drug seizure

posted Mar 21, 2011, 8:29 AM by GFADP staff   [ updated Aug 31, 2012, 8:29 AM ]
ATLaw - The Daily Report's blog about Georgia law, business and politics'
4:59 pm, March 16th, 2011

Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty hailed the federal Drug Enforcement Agency’s seizure Tuesday of the state’s stock of an execution drug.

The DEA’s action “provides yet another reason why the state has no business taking the lives of Georgians,” GFDAP Chairperson Kathryn Hamoudah said in a written statement. “Like in the Troy [Anthony] Davis case, once again, the arbitrary and cruel nature of Georgia’s death penalty has fallen under national scrutiny.”

Davis was convicted of murder for the 1989 slaying of Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail and is serving on death row. U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. ruled in August 2010 against Davis’ claims of innocence. In January, Davis and his attorneys filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The DEA confiscated Georgia’s entire supply of a sedative drug known as sodium thiopental, one of three drugs used during executions, according to the Associated Press.

The AP also has reported that the DEA acknowledged there are questions about how Georgia imported the drug and that defense attorneys have claimed the state obtained the controlled substance from a “fly-by-night” supplier in London, though the DEA has not stated specifically why it seized the drug supply.

“We would have hoped that Georgia would have had the foresight and decency to halt executions in light of the national and international concerns about the source and viability of lethal injection,” Hamoudah wrote. “Instead, the Georgia Department of Corrections went around the law to buy questionable drugs and then used them to extinguish two men.”

Georgia administered sodium thiopental to inmates Brandon Joseph Rhode, who was executed in September 2010 after being convicted in 2000 of killing a Jones County man and his children during a burglary, and Emmanuel Hammond, who was executed in January for the 1998 shooting death of an Atlanta preschool teacher.

Attorney General Sam Olens had no comment on either the seizure or GFDAP’s statements. Law Department spokeswoman Lauren Kane said the incident is “a Department of Corrections matter.”