Legend has it that more than a century ago, a Missouri Congressman stated at a banquet that he was not impressed by fancy speeches or “frothy eloquence,” concluding “I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.” Since then, Missouri has been known as the “Show Me” State.
One thing the people of Missouri are not being shown is how their state is killing prisoners.
No one can argue that Joseph Paul Franklin hasn’t committed heinous crimes. He has been linked to the killing of almost 20 people, is a proclaimed neo-Nazi, and reportedly changed his name in honor of Hitler’s minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels.
Franklin is now scheduled to be executed on November 20, 2013 in Missouri. He was sentenced to death for the murder of Gerald Gordon, a father of three Franklin shot outside of a synagogue.
[pullquote text=”Secrecy is corrosive; it breeds corruption. Powers exercised in secret are uniquely subject to abuse.”]Yet, there is mounting opposition to this execution, not out of any sympathy for Franklin, but because those in whose name the execution is to be carried out (the people of Missouri) are being kept in the dark about important details.
Missouri is refusing to release the name of the compounding pharmacy that is supplying it with the drug it plans to use to kill Franklin. Missouri law provides members of an execution team with anonymity, and the unnamed pharmacy has been added to the team. The products of compounding pharmacies are not regulated by the FDA. Without knowing which pharmacy is providing it, the efficacy of the drug to be used cannot be guaranteed.
Missouri, like many other states, is no stranger to botched executions.
In general, the public has a right to know what a state is doing in its name. This is particularly so when what the state is doing is killing. The power to kill prisoners is an awesome power. It is in fact, a power that states should not have at all, if basic human rights are to be respected and protected.
When combined with secrecy, the power to kill becomes even more pernicious. Secrecy is corrosive; it breeds corruption. Powers exercised in secret are uniquely subject to abuse.
Even in Georgia, where authorities remain fully committed to the practice of state killing, lethal injection drug secrecy was recently declared to be in violation of that state’s constitution.
It remains to be seen if such secrecy will be tolerated in the “Show Me” State.