State facing shortage of lethal injection drug - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

State facing shortage of lethal injection drug

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STATEWIDE -

Right now, Alabama has 197 inmates on death row.

This state has run out of pentobarbital, one of the three drugs used during an execution.

All executions are halted here until the state finds a new supplier. For right now, Alabama has 16 death row inmates who have no other appeals. But, until the Alabama Department of Corrections finds a new drug supplier those executions cannot be carried out.

The state attorney general's office is in favor of a 'compounding pharmacy' that could make the drug on site.

Clay Crenshaw, division chief of capital litigation in the Alabama attorney general's office, says pentobarbital is still manufactured and sold. But right now, the state Department of Corrections does not have access to the drug.

Pentobarbital is used to render the inmate unconscious before two other injectable drugs stop the heart and lungs from  functioning.

In 2002, Alabama adopted lethal injection as the primary method of execution in the state.

The lack of pentobarbital has resulted in decreasing executions in Alabama.

In 2011 there were six, none in 2012 and just one in 2013.

Governor Robert Bentley knows it has been a challenge without the drug.

"We'll have to wait an see what's available, and what could be used if that process has to take place."
 
Across the country, a shortage of lethal injection drugs has many states looking for substitutes to pentobarbital.

According to Crenshaw, the attorney general's office would support the use of a 'compounding pharmacy'  to make the drug on site at Holman prison where executions in Alabama are carried out.

Crenshaw says a drug sample could tested in an independent laboratory for purity and effectiveness.

So far, it's only an idea.

Typically, the attorney general's office asks the state supreme court to set an execution date for an inmate after all appeals are exhausted

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