LINCOLN, Neb. — Arkansas death row inmates want information from Nebraska about a drug that Nebraska plans to use for lethal injections.
The inmates’ attorneys filed a request Monday asking a federal judge to order Nebraska to provide information about where the state’s prison system acquired the fentanyl it plans to use for an upcoming execution, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.
The Arkansas lawyers argued that fentanyl, a painkiller, may be a more humane alternative to midazolam, a drug Arkansas uses in executions. They’re seeking information about Nebraska’s fentanyl supply, where the state obtained the drug, and when the state expects to acquire more.
Nebraska has repeatedly refused to release such information, saying the information is confidential under state law.
Five Arkansas death row inmates have a pending lawsuit challenging Arkansas’ use of midazolam, which they argue “has been linked to several executions in which inmates suffered prolonged, tortured deaths.” Little Rock-based attorney John Williams cited examples from execution in 2014, including Joseph Wood gasping and snorting for nearly two hours before he died from an injection of midazolam and hydromorphone in Arizona.
The lawyers said Nebraska has refused to provide information that they need to determine whether fentanyl could be made available in Arkansas. The attorneys are seeking an order compelling Nebraska to comply under a subpoena issued in Arkansas.
The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office has contended in three similar lawsuits filed in Nebraska that the information sought under public records law is confidential under state law.
A county judge last month ordered the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services to release information identifying the state’s supplier that didn’t name execution team members. Nebraska officials haven’t turned over the information as they appeal the decision.
Nebraska officials have been scrambling to set an execution date for Carey Dean Moore, the state’s longest-serving death row inmate, before their supply of the key execution drug expires next month.
The last Nebraska execution occurred in 1997, using an electric chair.