Groups Urge Gov. McCrory to Veto Bill that Would Make Executions More Secretive

August 5, 2015 11:15 am

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Mike Meno, ACLU of North Carolina
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Tarrah Callahan, N.C. Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
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RALEIGH – A coalition of human rights groups is urging Gov. Pat McCrory to veto a bill that would hide the source of lethal injection drugs used to execute prisoners on death row and remove the requirement that a qualified physician be present at all executions.

The groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, the Carolina Justice Policy Center, the N.C. Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, and the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, argue that HB 774 is a dangerous proposal that would make executions more secretive, increase the risk of botched executions, and ensure continued legal challenges to the death penalty in North Carolina.

“Less than a year after other states have botched executions as a result of using experimental drugs obtained in secret, it would be foolhardy for North Carolina to go down the same road,” said Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “This bill would increase the likelihood of a botched execution in North Carolina, hide basic information about executions from public access, and needlessly waste taxpayer dollars on the inevitable lawsuits that will follow. Governor McCrory should take a stand for transparency and accountability and veto this bill without delay.”

“Executions are one of the most significant acts undertaken by our government and should never by conducted without supervision by a licensed medical physician,” said Tarrah Callahan, Director of the North Carolina Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. “Lethal injection is a complex medical procedure and conducting executions without a physician present only increases the likelihood of botched executions as we’ve seen around the country.”

Other critics of HB 774 include the North Carolina Press Association and Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty.

Experimental, untested drug combinations were used in the horrifically botched and tortuous 2014 executions of Clayton Lockett (Oklahoma), Joseph Wood (Arizona), and Dennis McGuire (Ohio). In 2014, Henry McCollum, the longest serving prisoner on North Carolina’s death row, was exonerated after spending 30 years in prison. He was officially pardoned by Gov. McCrory in June.

The ACLU-NC sent Gov. McCrory a letter urging his veto of HB 774 last week. A copy of the letter is available at

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