Do States Violate U.S. Law By Experimenting With Lethal Injection Drugs?


One problem with last week’s bungled Oklahoma execution may have been the use of the slow-acting drug Midazolam, which is a sedative rather than an anesthetic, reports NPR. Florida injects inmates with five times the amount of Midazolam as that used in Oklahoma. During last week’s execution, Midazolam was administered to inmate Clayton Lockett. He was declared unconscious but afterward writhed and tried to lift his head.

Law Prof. Deborah Denno of Fordham University says that after the case of Lockett, who died after an unsuccessful lethal injection, “it’s going to be far more difficult for the states to turn a blind eye to requests for these critical pieces of information that attorneys need to know to make a successful challenge to the kind of procedures that are being used.” Meanwhile, the Clinic for Public Health and Policy at Johns Hopkins argues that by experimenting with new lethal injection drugs, states may be violating federal law. Whenever a new drug protocol or experiment is undertaken, federal law requires public and private agencies to first submit an application to the FDA. That hasn’t happened with the new lethal injection protocols.

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