Transparency Watch

Louisiana failed to turn over key public records about execution drugs

Documents entered into court record in the lawsuit of one prisoner on death row show that the Louisiana Department of Corrections had documents that would have fulfilled a records request made by The Lens in 2013.

The Lens, a non-profit newsroom in New Orleans, had previously requested records pertaining to the purchase and inventory of the state's supply of pentobarbital, as well as communications about the lethal injection drug. The only documents received in response to this request were ones showing that the department had purchased the drug for about $5,000. A later request also asked for records related to the expiration date of the state's pentobarbital. The state responded that it had no such records.

The department maintains that it "never intentionally withheld documents" and that a "due and diligent" search for records that met the criteria of The Lens' request had taken place.

According to The Lens, the department is in violation of state public records laws. It maintains that no statutory reason was ever given for why the documents were kept from The Lens. Its request continues to go unfulfilled more than a year after the initial request was submitted.

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