State Replenishes its Supply of Execution Drugs

Texas has already executed more people in 2018 than were put to death in all of last year, and now the state has what it needs to keep the executions on schedule, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says it has received 15 more doses of Pentobarbital, the drug used in lethal injections, bringing its total number of doses in stock to 22.  There are seven executions set for the rest of 2018, including the execution of a San Antonio killer, Christopher Young, who is set to be put to death next week for the murder of a convenience store clerk during a robbery back in 2004.

The new doses will also allow the state not to be hindered by the fact that several of the doses on hand are set to expire before the end of the year.

But the state, in keeping with its practice, will not reveal where the 15 new doses came from, something Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center says will prohibit officials from determining if the doses will be effective.

"We can't know that, because we don't know the source of the drugs," Dunham told News Radio 1200 WOAI.  "We know the source of virtually everything else that is supplied to the state.  It's called public contracting."

Concerns over the efficacy of the drugs used in lethal injections has become the most significant argument death penalty opponents can make to try to make the practice illegal.  In several states in the last two years, lethal injection executions have been bungled, leading to pain and clearly violating the Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

"Nobody in any state that carries out executions knows where the state gets the drugs," Dunham said.  "That is a serious problem, because in a democracy you're supposed to have open government."

Texas, with the support of the Texas Attorney General, has ruled that the source of execution drugs is outside the scope of the state Open Records Law.  The reason...with multi national pharmaceutical companies increasingly unwilling, and in the case of companies that are headquartered in Europe, forbidden by the European Union from supplying drugs for U.S. executions, death penalty opponents have mounted campaigns of harassment against the small 'compounding pharmacies' which now are the main source of the drugs.

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