Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lethal Injection/ Death Penalty news

A article this morning is relating that "according to a review of state pharmacy documents by The Associated Press, Ohio at this point in time has enough of its now-off-limits execution drug, pentobarbital, to complete seven of its 10 scheduled lethal injections, meaning that over the next year it must somehow acquire new batches or again switch to a different drug."

"Several states," the article noted, “including Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas, had switched to pentobarbital after supplies of a previous execution drug dried up. Texas prison officials disclosed last July that they had enough of the drug to execute as many as 23 people, while Oklahoma, that same month, reported that it had secured 20 additional doses…”

Ohio’s supply of pentobarbital expires next September, the article says, and “it’s unclear what the state would do once the supply runs out. Prisons director Gary Mohr had testified in federal court back in March that an altered version of the drug or a supply imported from overseas would not necessarily violate the prison’s execution policies… Expired batches of it would.”

Last May the Missouri Department of Corrections announced it was switching from its longstanding three-drug execution method to use of a single drug, propofol, making it the first state ever to use that drug for executions. Propofol is the same anesthetic that caused the overdose death of pop star Michael Jackson, a CBS News article back then had relayed, “causing a stir among critics who question how the state could guarantee a drug untested for lethal injection wouldn’t cause pain and suffering for the condemned.”

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster asked the state’s Supreme Court to set execution dates for up to 19 condemned men the same month, but an Associated Press article in early June was already reporting that court records released by then showed the court had advised attorneys for six of those inmates that they have until the end of June to show why an execution date should not be set, with the Wall Street Journal and St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporting in mid-August that its supreme court had taken the position that “it would be ‘premature’ to set execution dates for the six men on death row with a lawsuit pending that claims the state’s new lethal injection procedures are inhumane.”

That suit, originally filed in Cole County Circuit Court in June, was removed to Missouri’s Western District Federal Court in August on the state’s motion, with the earliest court date appearing to be in August 2013.

The Post-Dispatch article also reported that “It was also not clear whether propofol would be available for that purpose. In response to questions from the Post-Dispatch, one manufacturer, Fresenius Kabi, said it would not accept orders from prison systems and is "currently examining whether there may be possibilities to more tightly control access to propofol in the United States as a whole, in order to effectively prevent it from being used for purposes other than the approved medical indications."

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