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How Old Are The Drugs Used To Execute Texas Inmates?

Ken Piorkowski/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Following the execution of a Dallas man last week, the status of the state's supply of execution drugs is under new scrutiny. In a last-minute appeal to halt the execution, the prisoner's attorneys claimed two other executions this year were botched. The appeal was denied.


In recent years, Texas has purchased the combination of drugs used to execute prisoners from a compounding pharmacy. Unlike other states, which have faced cutoffs or shortages of execution drug supplies, Texas has been able to proceed with executions, due to a stable supply.

Jolie McCullough, a criminal justice reporter for the Texas Tribune, says attorneys for John Battaglia, who was executed Thursday, had filed a last-minute appeal claiming that two Texas executions last year were performed with expired drugs, causing pain to the prisoners.

"The lawyers claimed that these last two of the inmates said that he could feel it burning. The other one seemed to be jerking a little bit on the gurney," McCullough says. "And [attorneys] say that those are symptoms of expired drugs and that it was causing [the inmates] pain."

McCullough says the Texas Department of Criminal Justice says both inmates lost consciousness almost immediately, and that their executions were completed within 13 minutes – a typical amount of time.

The reason that the status, and even the source, of execution drugs is unclear, McCullough says, is that a shield law protects that information.


Written by Shelly Brisbin.