LETHAL INJECTION: Examining Ongoing Concerns with Lethal Injection Protocols

By aholsinger

In a recent column for The Crime Report, DPIC’s Executive Director, Richard Dieter, describes the history of lethal injection and the source of the current controversy as states turn to new, untested procedures. He explains that the three-drug protocol used in over 1000 executions was proposed by an Oklahoma coroner “without stipulating who would oversee the procedure.” He then outlines the series of events that have caused states to scramble for new lethal injection methods, beginning with Hospira, Inc., the sole U.S. supplier of sodium thiopental, announcing in 2010 that they would no longer produce the anesthetic, which has been used in executions. The column follows the actions of states, drug manufacturers, and the FDA as prisons struggled to find a reliable source for execution drugs. Dieter also summarizes the current situation in several states, including Ohio, which “has changed its execution protocol five times in recent years,” and Missouri, whose proposed use of the anesthetic propofol led the German manufacturer of that drug to protest, “indicating the entire supply of propofol for vital surgeries in the U.S. could be jeopardized.” Dieter concludes, “[W]ith the death penalty already declining in public support and use, the lethal injection crisis may be one more indicator that capital punishment no longer comports with our evolving standards of decency.”

(R. Dieter, “The Lethal Injection Debacle,” The Crime Report, November 12, 2013.) See Lethal Injection.

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