August 2, 2013 in Nation/World

Texas low on execution drug

Michael Graczyk Associated Press
 

HUNTSVILLE, Texas – The nation’s most active death penalty state is running out of its execution drug.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said Thursday that its remaining supply of pentobarbital expires in September and that no alternatives have been found. It wasn’t immediately clear whether two executions scheduled for next month would be delayed. The state has already executed 11 death-row inmates this year, and at least seven more have execution dates in coming months.

“We will be unable to use our current supply of pentobarbital after it expires,” agency spokesman Jason Clark said. “We are exploring all options at this time.”

Texas switched to the lethal, single-dose sedative last year after one of the drugs used in its three-drug execution process became difficult to obtain and the state’s supply expired. Other death-penalty states have encountered similar problems after some drug suppliers barred the drugs’ use for executions or have refused, under pressure from death-penalty opponents, to sell or manufacture drugs for use in executions.

No executions in Texas were delayed because of that shortfall.

“When Texas raises a flag that’s it having a problem, obviously numerically it’s significant around in the country because like they’re doing half the executions in the country right now,” Richard Dieter, executive director of the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center, an anti-death penalty organization, said Thursday.

Texas has by far executed more inmates than any other state in the U.S. since the Supreme Court allowed executions to resume. Since 1982, six years after the high court’s order, Texas has executed 503 inmates. Virginia is a distant second at 110.

Some death penalty states, most recently Georgia, have announced they’re turning to compounding pharmacies, which make customized drugs that are not scrutinized by the Federal Drug Administration, to obtain a lethal drug for execution use.

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