Kentucky is changing the way inmates are executed after a judge stopped a scheduled lethal injection, says the Associated Press. The most noteworthy change is an increase in the dose of sodium pentothal, the first drug used in the three-drug “cocktail” used in executions. How much anesthesia is given and how much actually makes it into the veins of the condemned person is at issue in a lawsuit challenging the way the state carries out executions by injection.
David Barron of the Department of Public Advocacy said the changes are a sign that the state’s method of lethal injection might be flawed. The state has executed one person by lethal injection, in 1999. An expert has said that there was more than a 50 percent chance that Harper was conscious when the third drug, potassium chloride, was administered. Under the new protocol, if an IV cannot be started on an inmate after one hour, officers will call the governor, who can decide to set another execution date. “In some respects, they took steps backward with this new protocol,” Barron said. “The concept of sticking someone with a needle for an hour, that sounds barbaric.”