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Idaho governor signs law shielding sources of execution drugs

Supporters of the new law say suppliers are demanding strict confidentiality. Opponents say it will be challenged in court.

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Gov. Brad Little has signed into law a bill that dramatically increases the secrecy surrounding Idaho's execution drugs.

The Republican governor signed the bill Wednesday after it passed the Senate 21-14 and the House 38-30.

The law prohibits Idaho officials from revealing where they obtain the drugs used in lethal injections, even if the officials are ordered to do so by the courts.

The legislation drew passionate debate from Republican and Democratic opponents, who said it would be challenged in court, that executions require more transparency rather than less and that it would reduce public trust in the state's execution process.

But supporters said the bill was the only way that the state would be able to continue to carry out lawful executions, because no suppliers of lethal injection chemicals will sell the drugs to the state without guaranteed confidentiality. 

Credit: AP
FILE - This Oct. 20, 2011 file photo shows the execution chamber at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution in Boise, Idaho. Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Wednesday March 23, 2022, signed into law a bill that prohibits Idaho officials from revealing where they obtain the drugs used in lethal injections, even if the officials are ordered to do so by the courts. (AP Photo/Jessie L. Bonner, File)

Sen. Todd Lakey (R-Nampa), one of the bill's sponsors, said the drugs are tested for efficacy before they are used and that the Idaho Department of Correction takes executions seriously. Nineteen other states have similar confidentiality provisions, he said.

Eight people sentenced to death are currently in Idaho state prisons. Three executions have occurred since the state enacted the current death penalty law in 1977. Idaho's last execution was in 2012.

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