The struggle to find drugs to carry out lethal injection has made headlines all over the country and was recently featured on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report.
Pharmaceutical companies who make these drugs have started to ban their sale for executions, and states are scrambling to find alternatives, with many dangerous consequences.
An Oklahoma execution made the news when the prisoner’s last words, after being injected with one of the drugs, were “my whole body burns.” In Ohio, it took over twenty minutes to kill an inmate, while he screamed and struggled on the execution table.
Now some states are turning to compound pharmacies and other questionable means for getting the drugs they need. They are masking this practice in secrecy and lawsuits are popping up all over the country in search of public disclosure.
Last year in Colorado, when Nathan Dunlap was scheduled for execution, the ACLU of Colorado filed a lawsuit to determine the state’s planned lethal injection protocol, the drugs that prison officials intended to use, and where those drugs were coming from:
Thankfully, Governor Hickenlooper, expressing several concerns with Colorado’s broken death penalty system, halted the execution.
Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, prison officials were bartering for drugs with Texas by offering to help if they threw the OK vs. TX football game:
And now Oklahoma is planning to use secretly sourced experimental drugs, despite a court ruling against their use:
The Huffington Post has an excellent infographic calling this the “New Costs of the Death Penalty”:
As the nation deals with this lethal injection drug shortage, it is a good time to take a step back and evaluate whether the death penalty should be used anymore. It is costly, unfairly applied, there is chance that an innocent person may be executed and now, it is hard to even follow through with the punishment.