Texas’ lethal injection drug is running out. The drug, penobarbital, will no longer be in use by September as the remaining supplies will expire. With no penobarbital, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice will have to turn to alternatives. One official has said that they are “exploring all options at this time.”
Why can’t Texas order more of the lethal injection drug, penobarbital? Well, it’s not that simple. According to The Atlantic Wire, access to the drug is not easy to come by for states.
Lethal injection in Texas, as in other US states, has been having supply issues in recent years, beginning in 2011. Before that, the common practice for lethal injection executions in the US involved giving convicts three different drugs.
One of these is an anesthetic called sodium thiopental. After the only manufacturer of the drug, a company in Italy, realized its use, they ceased production in protest.
Since then states have been scrambling to find an alternative. Penobarbital was one answer, a single-drug method of capital punishment. After its use was allowed by a court in 2010, states have been using it to perform executions. Texas lethal injections have come to rely on the drug.
However, suppliers have since denied sales of the drug to states that use it for capitol punishment. Now the drug is expiring and running out in many execution supply closets across the US. With at least seven more death row inmates in Texas due for lethal injections this year, according to Huffington Post, the southern state is looking for alternatives.
Some have suggested Texas may return to gas chamber executions, which are still technically legal. Others say they may find an alternative drug to use, like Missouri has. Though it has not yet been used, the drug propofol may become the new answer for lethal injection states. But already, manufacturers of the drug are restricting sales to states for capital punishment. Propofol was briefly in the national spotlight after it was blamed for Michael Jackson’s death.
Lethal injections in Texas may be put on hold after the state recently passed a 500 execution milestone.
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