Report: Time Running Out on Execution Drugs

Texas is still carrying out executions on a regular basis and has several more on the schedule, but there are new questions being raised about the usefulness of some of the state's execution drugs.  A recent analysis of state records by the Texas Tribune revealed that several doses of pentobarbital---the drug used for lethal injections in Texas---in the state's possession have a "beyond-use date" or expiration date of July 20.  The state has eight executions scheduled between now and October, with five of those set for after July 20.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jeremy Desel won’t confirm the expiration dates, but notes that the records used in the analysis were incomplete and don't tell the full story.  "To set the record straight, we are confident that we are adequately prepared for all scheduled executions," he tells KTRH.  Desel adds that the state has no plans to modify or change its single dose of pentobarbital method of lethal injection.  "Some states use multiple drugs, some states are reviewing other possible methods for execution," he says.  "We're sticking with the same method that we've used for several years."  And far from slowing the number of executions, Texas is actually looking to speed them up.

The incomplete nature of the state records and the TDCJ's refusal to confirm or deny them is part of the overall problem, according to Kristin Houle with the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.  "All of these questions just speak to the dangers of the significant lack of transparency that shrouds the execution protocol and process in Texas," says Houle.  "There's really no way to know what's going on and what the truth is, when it comes to the source of the lethal injection drugs or any substantive information about it."

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