Monday, July 9, 2018

Where did the drugs come from?

Back in February we looked at the stockpile of drugs the State of Texas had on hand to kill inmates. At that time there were 8 doses set to expire in late July and 4 doses set to expire in October.

Just last month Texas somehow came into possession of an additional 15 doses of pentobarbital.

According to Robert Dunham with the Death Penalty Information Center, most drug manufacturers have placed controls on pentobarbital (and other drugs used in executions) that prohibit the sale of drugs for unapproved medical purposes - a category that includes the use of the drugs in executions.

Due to the fact that Texas still has a "middle of the night" mentality when it comes to executions, state law forbids the state from disclosing its source of the drugs used in executions. This means that no one can check the reliability or potency of the drugs in question. It also shields compounding pharmacies from bad publicity.

"If Texas is getting these drugs legally that's important to know for death penalty cases across the country. If they're getting them illegally or by making misrepresentations to pharmaceutical distributors that's also important to know because states should not be violating the law or breaching contracts in the name of law enforcement." -- Robert Dunham

Is the State of Texas doing an end run around drug manufacturer restrictions on the use of certain drugs? Is the State of Texas, or an entity acquiring the drugs on behalf of the State of Texas, lying on forms asking for what purpose the drugs are needed?

Maybe you don't think it's a big deal where the drugs come from. Maybe you don't have a problem with the death penalty.

But there are more and more reports coming out that inmates are complaining of a burning sensation or pain during the process. These reports constitute violations of the 8th Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

These are issues that are important to execution litigation.  In order to mount a serious challenge to an execution method, attorneys need to know the type and provenance of each drug. And if a state violates an end user agreement or lies on a form specifying what the drug is to be used for, those are issues that need to be litigated. Just because you are carrying out an execution authorized by law doesn't mean you get to lie, cheat and cut corners to get the drugs you need to do it.

It is time for the State of Texas to reveal the source of the new drugs. It is time to examine the paperwork. It is time to find out whether Texas has extended drug expiration dates on its own. It is time to hold the State of Texas accountable for what it does in our name.

No comments: