US' Busiest Executioner Nearly Out of Lethal Drug

We're talking, of course, about Texas

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 2, 2013 7:23 AM CDT

(Newser) – Texas isn't just America's busiest executioner, it's the country's busiest by far, having put 503 people to death since 1976. (Virginia, at No. 2, has executed 110.) The state on Wednesday notched its 11th execution this year, and has seven more slated to occur before the close of 2013—except it's running out of the drug it uses to do so. A rep for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed to the LA Times that the state's stock of pentobarbital "will expire" next month, rendering it unusable.

He says "the agency is exploring all options including alternate sources ... or an alternate drug." It isn't clear whether two executions scheduled for next month will be delayed. The state last year switched to the single-dose drug, which is more commonly used to put down dogs and cats, due to shortages of the drugs used in its three-drug execution process. That switch bumped the cost of the drugs from about $84 to $1,289 per execution. This isn't a problem unique to Texas, but the head of an anti-death penalty group tells the AP that the revelation is "numerically significant ... because they're doing half the executions in the country right now."

The gurney in the death chamber is shown in this May 27, 2008 file photo from Huntsville, Texas.
The gurney in the death chamber is shown in this May 27, 2008 file photo from Huntsville, Texas.   (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan, File)
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