When Robert James Campbell is executed next week in Texas for the 1991 kidnapping and murder of a bank teller, a health care professional will inject him with pentobarbital, the drug Texas has relied on since 2012. That is known from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's 10-page “Execution Procedure” document. The Texas Tribune says details about how and where the agency obtained the drug and how much it has left are shrouded in secrecy, along with information about alternative drugs the prison system has on hand for use in executions should the supply of pentobarbital dwindle.
Lawyers have zeroed in on Texas’ secrecy after the botched execution in neighboring Oklahoma, raising questions about whether the lack of information about how the death penalty is implemented could lead to cruel and unusual punishment. Texas officials contend they are not being secretive and that they are protecting the pharmacies that supply the drugs needed for executions. “The new thing to do is to be secret about it,” said Jonathan Ross, Campbell’s attorney. “Obviously, they're having difficulty finding reputable pharmacies to fulfill it.” Ross has asked to delay Campbell’s May13 execution, saying it could violate his constitutional right to be free of ‘cruel and unusual” punishment.