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Md. Panel Raises Questions Over Death Penalty Drugs

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By John Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 16, 2009; 3:28 PM

The leaders of a Maryland legislative review panel detailed concerns in a letter Friday about death penalty regulations drafted by the O'Malley administration, posing questions about the drugs involved in lethal injections, among other issues.

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The Washington Post reported this week that the panel had put the regulations on hold with the blessing of Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), who opposes capital punishment. Implementation of the regulations are needed to end what has been an almost three-year de facto moratorium on the death penalty in the state.

In the letter, Del. Anne Healey (D-Prince George's) and Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George's) say they are seeking more information about procedures that are not explicitly spelled out in the proposed regulations. The level of specificity was an issue raised in a court ruling that prompted the moratorium.

The co-chairmen also question why the regulations call for lethal injections using a three-drug protocol, when they say the state's death penalty statute "calls for the use of two drugs." Healey and Pinsky also raise questions about the proposed use of paralytic drugs that are banned in animal euthanasia in Maryland, and contend that the regulations are "vague on the issue of medical training."

Rick Binetti, a spokesman for Gary D. Maynard, O'Malley's secretary of public safety and correctional services, said that "we will cooperate with the committee and provide any information they ask."


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