Texas low on lethal drug, has no plans to change executions

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Texas appears to be running out of the drug used to execute prisoners in what has become the most active death penalty state in the country, but officials said this week they have no plans to change execution methods.

“We have not changed our current execution protocol and have no immediate plans to do so,” Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said in a statement to The Times.

Clark declined to discuss how the state plans to maintain its supply of the drug.

Late Thursday, the state executed its 12th prisoner of the year: Robert Garza, 30, a former South Texas gang member convicted of killing four women in an ambush 11 years ago.


In his final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Garza argued Texas should be compelled to disclose the expiration date of drugs used to execute him, concerned that if the drugs were about to expire, they could fail, leave him in pain, paralyzed or comatose.

To date, Texas has executed more than 500 people.

Texas had been using a lethal injection composed of a three-drug cocktail until last year, when one of the drugs was in short supply, and officials switched to a single dose of the sedative pentobarbital. Switching to pentobarbital, also known as Nembutal, raised the cost of drugs for each execution to $1,286.86 from $83.55.

Other states have encountered similar shortages after drug suppliers, facing pressure from opponents of capital punishment, stopped selling or manufacturing the drug.

Ohio is expected to announce a new execution protocol next month due to the drug shortages. Authorities in Missouri have said they plan to use propofol, the anesthetic Michael Jackson was taking when he died.

Georgia officials turned to compounding pharmacies for the drug, facilities that are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The debut of their newly formulated lethal injection was delayed in July when a death row inmate challenged a Georgia law barring the release of information about where the state gets its execution drug.



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