Colorado, which hasn't carried out the death penalty in 15 years, is currently
incapable of performing an execution.
State law requires executions to be done by lethal injection. Department of
Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti said prison officials do not keep
supplies of death-penalty drugs on hand unless there is an execution scheduled.
Doing so would be a waste of money since unused drugs would need to be
replenished as they expire.
But the state could face problems when it goes shopping again for the drugs.
One of the three drugs Colorado has historically used in executions — sodium
thiopental, also known as sodium pentothal — is no longer being made by its
sole American manufacturer. Countries where the drug is made have refused to
allow export for use in executions. The European Union last year imposed strict
limitations on the export of the drug.
The restrictions have left a number of states that use sodium thiopental in
executions scrambling for supplies.
Sanguinetti said it has been "pretty common" for other departments of
corrections to call state prison officials asking whether the Colorado DOC has
supplies of sodium thiopental available. She said Colorado officials are
examining the supply issues.
"We have people looking into that," she said.
When Colorado last executed an inmate — Gary Davis in 1997 — the state used 3
drugs: sodium thiopental to anesthetize Davis, pancuronium bromide to paralyze
his lungs and potassium chloride to stop his heart.
Sodium thiopental is the only drug mentioned in Colorado's lethal-injection
law, but Sanguinetti said the law allows prison officials also to use another
"equally or more effective substance sufficient to cause death."
(source for both: The Denver Post)