Executions in Louisiana have been on hold for at least a year due to dearth of lethal-injection drugs _lowres (copy)

The execution chamber of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is shown in this 2010 Advocate file photo.

A bill in the Louisiana Legislature to hide the names of companies that provide drugs for lethal injections on the state’s death row has had smooth sailing so far.

Anything that might speed the execution of hardened criminals is bound to be popular among lawmakers, and concerns about transparency don’t typically furrow a lot of brows at the State Capitol.

We hope cooler heads prevail, and we urge lawmakers there to kill this ill-conceived bill. Whatever one feels about capital punishment, the public has a right to know how those convicted of the most heinous crimes are being put to death. It’s the only way to keep the process accountable to the public the justice system is supposed to serve.

Louisiana officials have had a hard time finding drugs for lethal injections because companies don’t want to be associated with the practice. The state hasn’t executed an inmate since 2010.

By hiding the roles of pharmaceutical firms in the gravest act a state can perform, officials hope drug companies will be more inclined to sell the lethal concoctions needed to carry out a death sentence.

But doing controversial work in secret is a gesture of dictatorships, not democracies. It compromises a procedure meant to bring justice to anguished families, and it lessens accountability when the process goes wrong. The history of capital punishment has involved a number of botched executions, and it’s hard to sort out responsibility for such mishaps when the names of key players are hidden from public view.

Numerous recent scandals within Louisiana’s prison system involving double-dealing among key leaders should give lawmakers further pause about lessening any aspect of transparency at the Department of Corrections.

The work of justice in a free republic has never been advanced through shortcuts. HB 258 is such an expedient, and we call on lawmakers to reject it.