Only A Few States Use Death Penalty Drug Approved By Supreme Court


Several death-penalty states that are scrambling for limited supplies of execution drugs showed no signs of adopting the drug that was upheld by the Supreme Court Monday that had a role in three apparently painful executions last year, reports the New York Times. The Texas state prison system has a supply of the drug on hand, the sedative midazolam, but appeared to have no plans to start using it. Prison officials planned to use another sedative known as pentobarbital for the state's next scheduled execution on July 16.

On Monday, Ohio issued a lethal-injection protocol that no longer calls for midazolam. Officials in other states, including Georgia and Idaho, said the ruling had no impact on their execution procedures because they did not use midazolam. Experts in lethal-injection law said some states were reluctant to turn to the drug because of its involvement in high-profile executions in Oklahoma, Ohio and Arizona in which prisoners appeared to suffer. “I don't think that the Supreme Court's stamp of approval cures the deficiencies with this drug,” said Jennifer Moreno of the Death Penalty Clinic at the University of California Berkeley, School of Law. “The drug has proven itself to not do what people thought it was going to do. Any of the department officials who are following this and have looked at the science would be very right to be nervous to include this drug.” Of the 31 death-penalty states, only a handful use midazolam or include it as an option in their protocols, including Florida, Virginia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arizona.

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