Attorney General Jim Hood Applauds Senate Passage of Senate Bill 2237
Attorney General Jim Hood applauded the Mississippi Senate today for approving a measure intended to protect the safety of the individuals responsible for carrying out executions.
Senate Bill 2237 would protect the identities of the state executioner and members of the execution team, and would also keep confidential the names of the local supplier or suppliers of lethal injection drugs located in the State of Mississippi. The bill was drafted by the Attorney General’s Office, and it is part of the Attorney General’s legislative agenda.
Attorney General Hood praised the leadership of Sen. Sean Tindell, who guided the bill through committee and handled the bill on the Senate floor today. Tindell, of Gulfport, is chairman of the Senate Judiciary-A Committee. The Attorney General also thanked Sen. Joey Fillingane of Sumrall, who sponsored the bill.
“We’ve had honest, hard-working Mississippi residents who have refused to work on the execution team because of fear for the safety of their families and concerns about retaliation inside and outside the prison,” Attorney General Hood said. “As long as we have the death penalty in Mississippi, we have a responsibility to protect the state employees who assist in carrying out executions. The businesses that agree to supply lethal injection drugs must also be free from the intimidation and strong-arm tactics of some anti-death penalty activists.”
Attorney General Hood said U.S. District Judge W. Allen Pepper Jr. recognized the importance of confidentiality in 2011, when he issued a protective order shielding names of the execution team from litigants in a lawsuit. The judge at the time said the team faced the possibility of harassment and retaliation.
“In instances like this, it’s important to weigh the public’s right to know versus the potential risk of harm to those who are merely doing their jobs and following state law,” Attorney General Hood said. “This is one of those very rare cases where there is a greater benefit to keeping some information confidential.”
Out of an abundance of respect for the families of murder victims, the bill also protects the identities of witnesses of the victim’s or the inmate’s family if they wish to remain confidential.
The bill passed 32-18. It is currently being held in the Senate on a motion to reconsider.