Death row inmates now executed with drug cocktail used to euthanize animals

San Quentin Prison execution chamber, US (AFP Photo)RT News

Facing a shortage of supplies for lethal injections, US law enforcement officials have begun executing prisoners with an animal anesthetic that has not been approved at the federal level, with the first such execution coming this week.

European pharmacies, citing a moral issue with capital punishment, have stopped sending certain drugs to regions of the US that still carry out the death penalty, areas that include Ohio, Missouri, Texas, Georgia, Florida, and Arizona.  

States are still using pentobarbital, intended to euthanize animals, while local supplies last but those without that option have begun “making changes in their lethal injection process,” Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told Agence France Presse.

Missouri began using propofol, the anesthetic that killed pop star Michael Jackson, but when the German supplier discovered how the drug was being used it ceased distribution to Missouri. The same happened when Denmark found out other states were using drugs produced there to execute prisoners.

“This is a continuing theme: every time a state starts to use a new drug, the company that makes that drug stops selling it,” said Deborah Denno, a law professor at Fordham University and expert on the subject.

Compounding pharmacies, which create specialized pharmaceutical product meant to fit the needs of a patient, have begun producing the drugs for state authorities.

But because of the lack of transparency around the production process – one compounding pharmacy was responsible for a fatal meningitis outbreak in 2012 because of poor hygiene – prisoners argue that risky drug cocktails put them at risk of being subjected to “cruel and unusual punishment,” which is prohibited under the US Constitution.

Earlier this month three Texas-based death row prisoners filed a lawsuit arguing this type of pharmacy is “not subject to stringent FDA regulations” and is “one of the leading sources for counterfeit drugs entering the US,” the lawsuit reads, as quoted by AFP.

“There is a significant chance that [the pentobarbital] could be contaminated, creating a grave likelihood that the lethal injection process could be extremely painful, or harm or handicap plaintiffs without actually killing them,” it adds.

“Nobody really knows the quality of the drugs, because of the lack of oversight,” Denno told AFP.

Michael Yowell, who was convicted of murdering his parents 15 years ago, was executed in Texas Wednesday. He became the first inmate to be executed in Texas with pentobarbital since European nations halted production for this purpose. His lawyers unsuccessfully tried to stop him from being killed, saying the compounded factors in pentobarbital make the drug unpredictable and there have not been enough trials to guarantee the death is painless.

The states in question may find an applicable replacement for the short-term but, Denno argued, this development could be an indication that capital punishment is on the wane.

“How many times in this country can they change the way they execute?” she said. “There were more changes in lethal injections in the last 5 years than in the 25 preceding years.”

7 thoughts on “Death row inmates now executed with drug cocktail used to euthanize animals

  1. OK, they are so damned in such a hurry to kill a bunch of people that they say were guilty of something that they do not have any executioner type of drugs?, well here ya`ll go – how about when they strapped the so called guilty one to the gurney they should strap him down as usual but strapp his head and shoulders down real good because these executioners could just take a needle and attach a hose to it and stik that needle in the prisoners jugler vein and let the blood drain out into a container to collect the blood……. I bet this way of execution would work just as well and I can see where it would be just as fast and pain free as the guy would bleed to death in no time. Just look at all of the money they could save by not spending it on all of those expensive drugs they use, and also this blood draining execution is guarenteed to work.

  2. Handful of people with rifles where only 1-2 are loaded. Simple & easy – cost effective!

    Too complex – one shlep with a gun -> kaboom!

  3. After positive proof & I mean positive, perp is up for execution, the Soviet way; no drama, no onlookers, no bullsh!t. Two guards walk into the perps cell, put him on his knees facing away from guards, one guard places pistol muzzle to sweet spot on back of perps head & hammer down. One more shot to head for good measure. Guillotine is next on list, but do it in public. Hanging is great if done properly, especially when a large amount of the public was victimized by the perp & done for all to see. This is the one most recommended for the Treasonous POS that are sitting in DC raping America at this very moment.

      1. I’d just force them to eat at a couple of truck stop buffets . A slow and gruesome way to go. LOL…..

      2. Damn, Henry, never have & never will. LoL….

        It’s really a job that has to be done, execution that is. Swiftly & painlessly as possible. This draw & quarter, gut shooting & evisceration while alive serves no purpose other that to instill fear & intimidation; something our own government does on a daily basis. I don’t know about the rest of the posters here, but I am a better human than the thugs & POS that are currently seated in government. I hold to my Oath. My exploits are my providence; take a casual look at theirs.

  4. not big on capital punishment. but if youre going to do it just do it. a kinder gentler death? what a crock that is! killing them gently id how p.c. lilly livers are kept from getting all upset. axe. block. public. this head removed at tax expense forxxxx crime. transparency in government. if ya csnt deal with it do something to stop it. but dont sooth yourself with kinder gentler execution.

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