The switch to a substitute drug for executions has driven up the cost of
capital punishment in Texas.
A year ago, the European supplier of sodium thiopental, bowing to pressure from
death penalty opponents, stopped making it.
When no other vendor could be found, the drug was replaced by pentobarbital as
1 of the 3 used in the lethal injection process.
With sodium thiopental, Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials said the
cost of lethal injection cocktail was $83.35.
It is now $1286.86, with the higher cost primarily due to pentobarbital,
officials said. The other drugs are pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride.
"Our responsibility is to carry out carry out the executions and when sodium
thiopental was no longer available, we had to find another drug with similar
properties and this is it," agency spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said Friday. "And
it's more expensive."
The increase in drug cost first was reported by the Austin American-Statesman.
"In the grand scheme of things, it's a very small amount when compared with our
entire budget," Lyons said. The department's budget for 2012 is just over $3
A dozen executions have been conducted with the new lethal cocktail in Texas
and at least 5 are scheduled in the coming months, including 1 next week.
According to the new numbers, Texas has spent more than $15,400 -- versus
$1,000 -- to carry out those 12 executions.
Prison officials have declined to identify the state's drug supplier and the
specific amount for each drug and are awaiting an opinion from the Texas
attorney general on whether they can keep that information confidential.
(source: Associated Press)