AG pens letter to governor asking where he stands on executions

Published: Jul. 24, 2018 at 2:48 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 24, 2018 at 6:35 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - The Louisiana Attorney General sent a letter to the governor Tuesday asking him where he stands regarding the state's plans to move forward with executions.

Louisiana can't put anyone to death because it can't find someone to sell the drugs needed to carry out executions, according to Natalie LaBorde, deputy secretary at the Department of Corrections who spoke with our partners | The Times-Picayune. 

Governor John Bel Edwards believes the issue is complicated, and that Attorney General Jeff Landry is using the state's difficulty to obtain the drugs for political gain, according to the report.

Currently, there is only one legal way to move forward with an execution in Louisiana. Drug shortages have forced Louisiana's corrections department to rewrite its execution plan several times since 2010.

According to Landry's letter, Louisiana is not the only state to have this problem. Landry claims that there are several options to consider that would help the state move forward with executions.

Landry claims in the letter that the options require the governor's consent to move forward.

"Your letter correctly acknowledge the participation of my staff in this matter, but it fails to report the offers made towards a solution...

Several discussions are well-documents; and all were in agreement that viable options exist and are wroth of pursuing. Moving forward with any of these options required one person's consent: yours."

Landry's letter listed the possible options, posing the question to the governor, "Where do you stand?"

"1. Policy Changes and Compounding Drugs.

You focus on the challenges in obtaining the drugs necessary to carry out executions; yet you have entirely dismissed the fact that E/Gfll' states have overcome the same obstacles and are carrying out sentences and achieving justice. A review of what other states have done shows that simple changes to DOC policy that expand drug options are a viable path forward. For example, the policy could be changed to expand the single drug protocol to include midazolam -  a drug which has survived court challenges to its use. Moreover, the policy - as indicated by DOC - already permits a single-drug protocol using pentobarbital, which can be obtained by compounding. The pharmacy at Angola has compounding capacity, and we would bewilling to work with DOC to avoid any pitfalls that may arise or to find other compounding pharmacies.

2. Changes in the Law.

You make the unremarkable observation that other methods of execution "are not allowed by Louisiana law." While this is true, you avoid the simple truth that the law can be changed. This should not come as a revelation, as you have called the Legislature into session for a record-breaking six times to increase taxes by changing tax laws. As such, I would be heartened - as would crime victims' families - by working together to support legislation that finds a means to end this impasse. Toward that end, I have enclosed draft legislation that would expand the methods of executions and expand confidentiality protections. The draft tracks changes made  by other states who hold victims' rights sacrosanct. I am confident that with both of our support, many legislators will adopt our efforts."

Landry ended his letter stating that if Edwards truly stood with victims and their families, he would work with him on finding a solution.

"If you truly stand with crime victims and their families, then you will affirm your support with action. I am willing to re-engage my lawyers in Hoffman with your unambiguous pledge of support to ending that litigation by any and all means and with a clear, concise directive to move forward with the solutions above," Landry said.

Governor Edwards responded to Landry's letter with this statement:

"We have received the latest letter from the Attorney General. We are pleased that he has conceded that current law, not the governor, is standing in the way of the state resuming executions, which have been on hold since 2010. Quitting the very lawsuit that was meant to bring justice for these families was never the answer, so his commitment to re-engage is welcome news.  In the 211 days the legislature has been in regular session since 2016, the attorney general has not offered a single bill. We will review his suggestions and hope to re-start a constructive dialogue. In the future, it is our hope that we can handle process disagreements person-to-person rather than through the media." - Richard Carbo, spokesman for Gov. John Bel Edwards

The state's last execution was in 2010.

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