Another federal agency is after South Dakota's lethal injection drugs. Last year the Drug Enforcment Agency ordered South Dakota to hand over its supply of drugs. Now the food and drug administration has issued a similar order. But South Dakota's Attorney General has no plans to hand over the drugs.
The state and federal agencies are fighting over the state's supply of Sodium Thiopental; a quick acting barbiturate sometimes used as anesthesia and in higher doses lethal injections. South Dakota has one case of 500 pieces. It bought the drug from a manufacturer in India, after state officials realized there was a major shortage. Some say U.S. Companies stopped making the drug because of pressure from anti death penalty groups. They say since the drug was not manufactured in the U.S. it is not safe for use in executions.
Without the drug supply from India, death row murderers like Donald Moeller and Charles Rhines could possibly delay their executions. Something Jackley pointed this out in his response to the FDA.
Jackley also says the state went through proper channels to get the Sodium Thiopental and even has the FDA paperwork, signed by Prison Warden, Doug Weber, to prove it.
“We let the FDA know exactly what we were doing, we never tired to hide anything. We went through the proper protocols, through what they require us to go through. So there has obviously been a change in philosophy through the Washington DC administration, and we just want to work with them, so we can primarily ensure we carry through various jury verdicts and receive justice for victims families here in South Dakota”, said Jackley.
Also in his response to the FDA, Jackley points out a letter dated March 25, 2011 from the FDA's district director, releasing the shipment of Sodium Thiopental to the state of South Dakota. The letter from the FDA reads in part "in keeping with established practice, FDA does not review or approve products for the purpose of lethal injection" It is signed by Todd Cato, FDA District Director.
South Dakota had the drugs independently tested and found the supply it got from Neon Labs in Mumbia, India, meets U.S. safety standards. The state has offered to let the FDA conduct its' own tests on a sample. Jackley wants to offer some cooperation even though he feels the agencies are overstepping their bounds.
“I think overall they have a primary responsibility. The DEA's responsibility is criminal enforcement, the FDA is for public health, not to interfere with a legally sanctioned, by the United States Supreme Court death penalty that 34 states currently have on their law books,” said Jackley.
Before his appointment and then election as South Dakota Attorney General, Jackley was the U.S. Attorney for South Dakota. His time working for the U.S. Department of Justice may give him some insight into how federal agencies work. He is hoping those in charge at FDA realize South Dakota, and other states have a strong case for holding on to their supply of lethal injection drugs. If not, Jackley says they will go to court. South Dakota's supply of Sodium Thiopental expires at the end of this year, and could not be used for executions after that. At this time South Dakota law also allows the use of Pentobarbital in lethal injection executions.
(source: KDLT News)