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

(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."

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Showing 3 of 24 comments
Aug 3, 2013 4:33 AM CDT
Far cheaper and easier to get than pentobarbital, or any other drug-style killer, is nitrogen gas. You'd fill a chamber completely with pure nitrogen. Deprived of oxygen but allowed to breathe unimpeded, a person gets tired really fast, collapses into a coma, and then dies. No gasping, no panic, no headache. Unlike carbon dioxide which rings our biological alarm bells and makes us struggle to find fresh air, our lungs accept nitrogen with total comfort. Afterwords, vent the harmless nitrogen outside. 80% of the air is nitrogen anyway.
Aug 3, 2013 12:02 AM CDT
"In the case of Joseph Roger O'Dell III, executed in Virginia in 1997 for a rape and murder, a prosecuting attorney bluntly argued in court in 1998 that if posthumous DNA results exonerated O'Dell, "it would be shouted from the rooftops that ... Virginia executed an innocent man." The state prevailed, and the evidence was destroyed.. . . . Ray Krone is the 100th American to have been sentenced to death and then later exonerated." Read it. Texas is mentioned 7 times
Aug 2, 2013 8:31 PM CDT
what is the problem here? one bullet one kill! end of story!