Last year Texas administered the death penalty to 13 inmates, which was double
the amount of any other state. The state has been well known for its fondness
of the death penalty, and now it seems, according to The Guardian, that it only
has enough of one of the deathly drugs for six more proceedings, which will
last it until June of this year.
Pentobarbital is the drug in question. It is injected along with 2 other drugs,
and the maker of this drug, Lundbeck, has long disapproved of this drug’s usage
in the death penalty. As of July 1, 2011, the company announced that it would
no longer be outsourcing the drug to U.S. states that use it as capitol
punishment. This decision not only affects Texas, but 34 other states in the
U.S. that allow the death penalty.
The company’s statement at the time was, “Lundbeck is dedicated to saving
people’s lives. Use of our products to end lives contradicts everything we are
in business to do. Lundbeck is opposed to the use of its product for the
purpose of capital punishment.”
While the drug has been approved to treat seizures and act as a sedative, it
also has a much darker history. This drug has long been used in connection with
euthanasia and is legally used to do so in countries such as Switzerland and
the Netherlands. It is very noble for Lundbeck to stand up for its values, but
that does not mean this drug is not being used for death in other places.
Texas is not the only state running low; Georgia only has enough of the drug to
cover 4 more deaths. This begs the question of what these states will look to
when they are out of their supplies. Will they stop administering lethal
injections, like so many other states who have had to deal with controversial
cases, or will they seek different options?
Texas has had 476 executions since 1976, and 238 of those have occurred since
1998 when Governor Rick Perry took office. This has been something Perry is
said to be very proud of. Texas has already executed one prisoner this year,
and the next execution is set to happen on February 28.
12 states held executions last year. Texas was followed by Alabama with 6
cases. Ohio had 5 cases last year, but now has put their death penalty on hold
due to inconsistencies. Arizona executed 4 prisoners last year; Oklahoma,
Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi each had 2; and Virginia, Missouri, South
Carolina, and Delaware each had 1 apiece.