Texas gets supply of lethal injection drug for death row

Reuters / Sukree Sukplang
Texas has received a new batch of lethal injection drug pentobarbital, allowing it to conduct four executions in April. The state accounts for 37 percent of all executions carried out in the US since 1976.

"The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has obtained a new supply of pentobarbital, which will allow the agency to carry out executions that are scheduled for the month of April," spokesman Jason Clark said in a statement.

Texas acquired the batch of the lethal injection drug from a local pharmacy whose name hasn’t been released.

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"We continue to explore all options including the continued used of pentobarbital or alternate drugs to use in the lethal injection process," Clark said, Reuters reported.

It follows the announcement earlier this month that the state was running out of the drug, with only two batches left. One of them was used on March 11, and another is set to be used for the April 9 execution of Kent William Sprouse, convicted of the shooting deaths of a North Texas police officer and another man in 2002.

At least two more prisoners are set to be executed in May and June and would need yet another drug acquisition, The Guardian reported.

Texas and a few other states had to search for new ways to obtain lethal injection drugs, as many pharmaceutical companies – most of them Europe – banned the sales of medications that were not initially intended for death row.

The solution is now regulated compounding pharmacies, which mix chemicals that can be used for lethal injections.

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However, the measure is protested against by the lawyers of death row inmates: they say this way of acquiring drugs can result in impure mixtures, and consequently, undue suffering and constitutional violations, Reuters reported.

Other options being discussed to replace lethal injections include the gas chamber, firing squad and the electric chair.

Only a couple of days ago, Utah’s governor signed a law permitting the state use firing squads, should drugs be impossible to obtain, while in Oklahoma, preliminary approval was provided for the use of nitrogen gas for executions.

Since 1976, 37 percent of all executions that took place in the US happened in Texas.