Wednesday 21 February 2018

Texas death penalty threatened as just six lethal doses of drug left

Amy Willis

DWINDLING supplies of the lethal injection drug pentobarbital have thrown the Texan death penalty system into doubt, with an estimated six doses remaining.

The drug shortage means the state, the powerhouse of judicial killings in the US, is only able to carry out its scheduled executions until June, human rights group Reprieve has calculated.

Reprieve said Georgia is also suffering a supply crisis with only 17 vials of pentobarbital remaining.

Six executions are scheduled in Texas over the next four months but beyond that quantities of pentobarbital, one of three drugs needed to carry out the lethal punishments, will no longer be sufficient.

Texan officials refused to confirm any shortages of the drug citing “security reasons”.

Last year, the Danish manufacturer of pentobarbital placed an embargo on distributions to the US to prevent it being used in American executions.

Pentobarbital is used to render the prisoner unconscious before another drug is administered to stop the heart.

Last year, Texas put 13 inmates to death, the highest judicial death rate in the US. The figure was double that of the second highest state to execute prisoners; Alabama, which killed six people.

Thirty-four states in America still use the death penalty.

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