When New Mexico conducted its first execution in 41 years in 2001, the executioner who carried out the death sentence was a contractor who learned how to administer a deadly chemical cocktail in Texas, which operates the nation’s busiest death house, says USA Today. Outsourced executions have drawn attention to Texas’ growing reputation as the source for behind-the-scenes guidance and experience in carrying out lethal injections at a time when that method of execution is under fire.
As lawsuits have challenged the constitutionality of lethal injections, more than a dozen states and the federal government have sought Texas’ advice in carrying out such executions. The lawsuits have alleged that unqualified execution teams sometimes botch the procedure and make it a cruel and unusual punishment that should be considered illegal under the Eighth Amendment. The Texas visits by officials from other states and the federal government generally are not publicized. Such trips usually are planned around a scheduled execution in Texas, so that the visiting officials can see the entire procedure. Seats are reserved for visiting officials in the “chemical room,” where an anonymous executioner starts the flow of the lethal drugs to the prisoner through intravenous lines.