This is a darkly amusing story. State governments are having trouble putting people to death because of a shortage of one of the key drugs used to impose the death penalty.
US states are facing a new obstacle to enforcing the death penalty after the sole American manufacturer of a drug used in lethal injections announced it was ending production.
Some states have already been forced to seek alternative supplies of sodium thiopental abroad, including illicitly from British companies, in order to carry out executions because of a shortage of the anaesthetic after production was stalled by the lack of a key ingredient.
Yes, they’ve actually had to break the law to get the chemical they use to kill people for breaking the law.
Last year, California and Arizona illicitly obtained supplies of the drug, manufactured in Austria, from a UK wholesaler, Dream Pharma, which had obtained it from the British licence holder, Archimedes Pharma UK. Arizona used the drug in the execution of a man in October. After an outcry, the British government imposed export controls on the drug in November to prevent its use in executions.
And even Texas is going to run out:
The supply of sodium thiopental held by Texas, which carries out more lethal injections than all the other US states combined, will expire in March weeks before two scheduled executions.
California was forced to call off the execution of a man in September. It tried to obtain the drug from at least six other states and from Pakistan before securing a supply from a British importer that is sufficient for about 100 executions.
If they put this much effort into obtaining and testing DNA evidence, they might have fewer executions to carry out.