Letter: Reasons for death penalty legislation

Farm Forum

I appreciate that many of the decisions I make as attorney general are by nature controversial, and it is healthy that they be scrutinized and subject to criticism, a process that thickens my skin.

I read with interest your recent editorial on the death penalty and the reference to my legislative proposal causing a “scratching of heads” (Jan. 9). Indeed, why would the governor and attorney general form an open government task force, adopt and propose the positive changes on the one hand, and then the AG move in this direction?

Accepting that you may not agree with it, but as a way of explanation, the reason I am asking the Legislature to amend the existing statute to encompass protecting the “entity supplying” the chemical substances used is twofold:

• To include and protect the South Dakota pharmacist that compounds the substances — a process considered as part of the supplying as set forth in our protocols. That South Dakota pharmacist is a real person with very legitimate concerns stemming from the Donald Moeller case.

• Based upon past threats to employees, manufacturers are now either requesting or in some instances requiring that this information be kept confidential in order to protect their employees, or they won’t supply the chemicals.

I do not have enough information to comment on the seriousness of the developments with the manufacturers, other than to say that the practical effect is that the state, as demonstrated within the Donald Moeller litigation, has had issues obtaining the chemical substances to carry out state law.

I would further add that the state was able to receive and compound the substances used in carrying out Donald Moeller’s sentence in part because this information was and is presently protected by federal court order for the safety reasons.

While I am a proponent of the death penalty in very limited circumstances, I have the additional responsibility as attorney general to carry out a lawful sentence that is allowed by our state Legislature and set by a court and jury. I believe this proposed legislation will assist in this responsibility.

Marty Jackley

South Dakota Attorney General