Attorney General Chris Koster is wrong about Missouri executions

06/04/2014 5:18 PM

06/04/2014 6:39 PM

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster wants the state to get more fully involved in the execution business by setting up a pharmaceutical lab to manufacture its own death drugs.

As ideas go, this one is better than Koster’s suggestion a year ago that the state should consider killing people with a gas chamber. But not by a lot.

In both cases, the Democratic attorney general was responding to the logistical and legal problems the state has encountered ever since major pharmaceutical manufacturers, some of them based in Europe, have begun refusing on moral grounds to supply the drugs used in lethal injections.

The dry pipelines have forced Missouri and other states to turn to compounding pharmacies, which prefer to do this unsavory business in anonymity.

Koster is framing his idea as a way to eliminate the secrecy and lack of transparency that are adding new elements of controversy to executions and also providing new grounds for inmates’ appeals. The attorney general also suggests a state-run lab would be more cost-effective by removing “market-driven participants” from the process.

But that’s just putting a shiny spin on the repugnant suggestion that the state get into the business of mixing up chemicals to kill people.

Clearly, executions are problematic for Missouri. If Koster wants to end the secrecy and save the state money, he should campaign for the more cost-effective and moral approach of punishing the worst offenders with life in prison without parole.

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