The state of Texas will run out of its lethal injection drug in eight days unless a replacement source is found, in a shortage similar to those encountered in other states whose workarounds have been controversial and possibly unconstitutional. One inmate is scheduled to be killed on Wednesday, March 11, and another on Wednesday, March 18, exhausting the state supply of pentobarbital. From the AP:
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice declined to say why it has not been able to obtain more pentobarbital from the same compounding pharmacy that provided the current batch of the powerful sedative last March. The state switched to that source several months after its previous supplier cut ties, citing hate mail and potential litigation after its name became public through an open records request from The Associated Press.
Many drugmakers have decided in recent years that they will no longer supply lethal doses, and the alternative drug combinations concoted for use by officials have, in the words of a previous Slate piece, “not had the intended effect of quickly sedating and killing condemned prisoners.” Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Georgia (which just delayed an execution because of concerns about the quality of its drugs) are among the states that have encountered shortages, but no state executes prisoners as often as Texas, which has at least four killings scheduled for April and May.
Legislative action would be needed to change Texas’ method of execution to another approach, like hanging or electrocution, and per the AP no such change is currently being considered.