At least half of the 38 states authorizing the death penalty offer sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs to condemned inmates before execution, reports the Associated Press. Though the practice does not violate national ethics standards for doctors and nurses, it makes some death penalty opponents uneasy. Condemned inmates in 11 states have received sedatives or anti-anxiety drugs before executions going back at least 12 years, AP says. Four states prohibit the drugs, including Texas, which has the nation’s busiest execution chamber.
Eight of 24 inmates put to death since Ohio resumed executions in 1999 took medication before they died by injection. Five inmates declined the drugs, and records don’t indicate if drugs were offered in the remaining cases. Ohio prison officials gave one inmate the anti-anxiety drug Ativan three times the day before his execution. The other drug most commonly given to condemned inmates in Ohio is Vistaril, an antihistamine sometimes prescribed as a sedative.