Over the last decade or so, European companies have been cutting off their supply of drugs used in lethal injections. This has caused the drug to now be in short supply, with prisons using stockpiled remains of pentobarbital and sodium thiopental in their executions, which causes the heart to stop, eventuating in a rapid death. Supply has been cut off since European comapnies have banned the use of their drugs in executions and will not supply to anywhere that intends to use it for this purpose, and state governors are now unable to import any type of drug from Europe that could be used for this purpose.
As US prisons are no longer able to keep up with demand, they are turning to using a mixture of drugs, such as the recent controversial execution of Dennis McGuire in Ohio, in which he took over 25 minutes to die with a previously untested two-drug system. A gasping McGuire was seen choking and clenching his fists by his horrified family, as if he was in severe pain.
This experience could greatly affect the decisions of the types of drugs used in executions and indeed, in a rethink of the law itself. State prisons cannot simply switch the method of execution wihout a lengthy legal process, leading many to wonder; is it worth it?
This shortage could eventually lead to the biggest shake-up of death penalty law that America has ever seen.
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