America's Most Prolific State for Executions Switches to Pentobarbital
Texas has announced a change to its execution protocol. The state will replace sodium thiopental, one of three drugs used for executions,with pentobarbital. Both drugs are anesthetics. Sodium thiopental has been in short supply since the sole domestic manufacturer discontinued the drug under pressure from European partners who are opposed to capital punishment.
"We are going to move from sodium thiopental to pentobarbital," Michelle Lyons, public information director for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, told AFP.
Texas uses a three-drug protocol for executions. Sodium thiopental is the first drug administered to sedate the inmate before injecting drugs that paralyze and stop the heart.
Oklahoma first used pentobarbital during a three drug execution late last year. Last December,Oklahoman John David Duty was the first inmate in America executed with pentobarbital. On March 10, 2011, Ohio used a single lethal dose of pentobarbital to execute Johnnie Baston. Ohio and Washington state are the only states that use a single-drug execution protocol.
It is significant that Texas has switched to pentobarbital. Texas is the most prolific user of execution as punishment in the U.S. Texas consistently executes the most inmates annually. Texas has accounted for more than one-third of all executions carried out in this country since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
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