February 26, 2014

Michael Taylor has been executed by Missour using compounded pentobarbital

Final Meal:

Taylor did not use his right to request a specific last meal and was served potato soup and a sandwich.

Missouri has gone ahead with executing a death-row prisoner using a drug from an unspecified source. The lethal injection of pentobarbital used to kill Michael Taylor, 47, who raped and murdered a teenage girl in 1989, was presumed to have been bought by the state from a compounding pharmacy – a supply arrangement that sparked legal challenges over the potential cruelty of using an unregulated drug.

In a brief phone conversation with The Kansas City Star just hours before the execution, Taylor said he had written a letter to Ann’s parents and that a prison official assured him it would be offered to them. In the letter, Taylor said, he expressed “my sincerest apology and heartfelt remorse.”

“I hope that they’ll accept it,” Taylor said of the letter.

Taylor offered no final statement. He mouthed silent words to his parents, two clergymen and two other relatives who witnessed his death. As the process began he took two deep breaths before closing his eyes for the last time.

Taylor was pronounced dead shortly after midnight. Federal courts and the governor had refused last-minute appeals from his attorneys, who argued that execution drugs purchased from a compounding pharmacy could have caused Taylor inhuman pain and suffering.

Taylor’s victim, 15-year-old Ann Harrison, was in her driveway holding her school books, flute and purse when she was abducted by Taylor and Roderick Nunley. The men pulled her into their stolen car, took her to a home, then raped and fatally stabbed the girl as she pleaded for her life.

Nunley also was sentenced to death and is awaiting execution.

In their appeal Taylor’s attorneys questioned Missouri’s use of an unnamed compounding pharmacy to provide pentobarbital. They also cited concerns about the state executing inmates before appeals were complete and argued that Taylor’s original trial attorney was so overworked that she encouraged him to plead guilty.

The Oklahoma-based compounding pharmacy Apothecary Shoppe agreed last week that it would not supply the pentobarbital for Taylor’s execution, which left Missouri to find a new supplier. The attorney general, Chris Koster, later disclosed that a new provider had been found but refused to name the pharmacy, citing the state’s execution protocol that allows for the manufacturer to remain anonymous.

Taylor’s attorneys argued use of the drug from an unspecified source could cause an inmate pain and suffering because no one could check if the maker was legitimate and had a record of producing safe drugs.

The official makers of pentobarbital refuse to sell it for executions.

AUDIO: Bernard interview 7:40
AUDIO: Post-execution news conference 8:23

TEXAS – Texas prison system has drugs for 23 executions

May 19, 2012  source : AP

After prodding from Texas AG, prison system says it has enough drugs to execute 23 inmates
Texas prison officials disclosed Friday they have enough lethal drugs to execute as many as 23 people.
In response to this week’s opinion from the state attorney general’s office that said the Texas Department of Criminal Justice could not withhold information about the drug supply, the department said it currently has 46 2.5-gram vials of pentobarbital. A 5-gram dose — about 3.4 ounces — is the 1st lethal drug used during each execution in Huntsville, according to Texas execution procedures.
The prison agency said it had similar supplies of 2 other drugs also administered to condemned inmates. It did not, though, identify suppliers of the lethal drugs, which the opinion also had addressed.
Executions also involve 100 milligrams of pancuronium bromide and 140 milliequivalents of potassium chloride. Texas has 290 10-milligram vials of the pancuronium bromide — 10 are required per execution — and 737 20-milliequivalent vials of potassium chloride — 7 per punishment.
The department’s written procedures call for a matching set of drugs and syringes “in case unforeseen events make their use necessary.” But in a brief statement emailed to reporters late Friday, the agency said a backup set of lethal drugs for executions “is not actually prepared, but an additional dose is available if needed.”
The attorney general’s opinion, dated Monday, was an answer to public information requests filed earlier this year by the Austin American-Statesman and British newspaper The Guardian.
Prison officials had argued that releasing the information could be harmful to employees and provide death penalty opponents a way to harass the drug suppliers with the hope firms would refuse to do business with the state.
“We find your arguments as to how disclosure of the requested drug quantities would result in the disruption of the execution process or otherwise interfere with law enforcement to be too speculative,” Sean Opperman, an assistant attorney general, wrote in the opinion.
The prison agency had 30 days to comply with the opinion or to challenge it in court. The status of the supplier question was not immediately clear.
Opperman said that, while the attorney general’s office “acknowledge(s) the department’s concerns,” the corrections department didn’t show how disclosure of the information “would create a substantial threat of physical harm to any individual.”
Department officials previously had indicated they had a sufficient supply to handle upcoming executions. At least five are scheduled for this summer, including one early next month.
Last year, one of the drugs Texas had used in the process, sodium thiopental, became unavailable when its European supplier bowed to pressure from death penalty opponents and stopped making it. No other vendor could be found, so the drug was replaced by pentobarbital.
The physical effects of pentobarbital on condemned inmates have not been noticeable during the executions, but the financial cost to the state has risen considerably. Prison officials put the cost of the previous mixture at $83.35. It’s now $1286.86, with the higher cost primarily due to pentobarbital.

IDAHO – Idaho Opts For 1 Drug Only In Execution Policy

May 18, source : AP 

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho’s corrections chief says the agency is switching to a one-drug lethal injection for future executions of death row inmates.
Idaho Department of Corrections Director Brent Reinke said Friday execution teams will administer a single, lethal dose of the surgical sedative pentobarbital.
That’s a change from the execution carried out by the agency last fall, when the condemned inmate was injected with three-drug mixture, which included pentobarbital.
Reinke says the change was driven by difficulties in obtaining the other two chemicals used to kill Paul Ezra Rhoades in November.
The decision makes Idaho the latest death penalty state to switch to using only pentobarbital in its lethal injection.
Reinke says the one-drug protocol will be used in the June 12 execution of convicted murderer Richard Leavitt.


Texas accuses anti-death penalty charity of fomenting violence

march 28, source :

Texas, America’s most prolific practitioner of the death penalty, has launched an extraordinary attack on the international anti-death penalty charity Reprieve, accusing it of intimidating and harassing drug companies and likening the group to violent prison gangs responsible for the eruption of prison riots.

The attack comes from the Texas department of criminal justice, TDCJ, which each year carries out the lion’s share of executions in America. In a letter to the attorney general of Texas, Greg Abbott, the TDCJ accuses Reprieve of “intimidation and commercial harassment” of manufacturers of medical drugs used in lethal injections.

In astonishingly vivid language, the TDCJ says that Reprieve, which is headquartered in London, “crosses the line from social activists dedicated to their cause to authoritarian ideologues who menace and harass private citizens who decline to submit to Reprieve’s opinion on the morality of capital punishment by lethal injection”.

Reprieve’s tactics present the risk, the Texas prison service claims, of violence. “It is not a question of if but when Reprieve’s unrestrained harassment will escalate into violence against a supplier.”

In the most colourful accusation, the TDCJ compares the human rights organisation to gangs operating in Texas prisons. It writes that Reprieve’s methods “present classic, hallmark practices comparable to practices by gangs incarcerated in the TDCJ who intimidate and coerce rival gang members and which have erupted into prison riots”.

The Texas letter takes the war of words between US states still practising executions and anti-death penalty campaigners to a new level. Reprieve has long had fraught relations with states practising capital punishment in the US, but never before has it been accused of fomenting violence.

Maya Foa, Reprieve’s specialist campaigner on lethal injection, said the accusation was absurd. “Pharmaceutical manufacturers have been objecting to the use of medicines in executions since the lethal injection was invented – Reprieve didn’t create these ethical scruples! And far from harassing them, Reprieve defends these companies and their ideals and we have excellent relationships with them.

“Medicines are made to improve and save lives, not to end them in executions. This principle is at the core of the pharmaceutical profession, and companies have long objected to the misuse of their products by US departments of corrections.”

Texas makes its assault on Reprieve in a 15-page brief that it composed in response to a request for information from the Guardian relating to the quanitity of anaesthetic that the prison service had left in its supplies. The pool of anaesthetic – the first drug used in a cocktail of three chemicals that makes up the lethal injection – has been running low as a result of s boycotts in Europe and other countries.

In its brief, the TDCJ makes a case for withholding the information requested by the Guardian on security grounds. It says that to release information on drug stocks would help Reprieve identify the source of the medicines and that in turn would create “a substantial risk of physical harm to the supplier”.

As supporting evidence, the TDCJ cites the example of Lundbeck, a Danish drug company that is one of the world’s leading producers of the anaesthetic pentobarbital, trademarked as Nembutal. Last summer the firm placed strict restrictions on the distribution of Nembutal to prevent it being used in executions in the US.

Texas claims that Lundbeck imposed the restriction in response to intimidation by Reprieve. “Lundbeck acquiesced to Reprieve’s unrestrained harassment and agreed to deny orders from prisons located in those states active in carrying out death penalty sentences,” the brief says.

But Lundbeck has told the Guardian that its move to impose restrictions on the end use of Nembutal had nothing to do with Reprieve. “We acted because we are a company that wants to help save people’s lives and we are against the misuse of our drugs in prisons. We took our stance long before we were contacted by Reprieve.”

In a gesture that makes a mockery of the claim of intimidation, Lundbeck this week has signed a Hippocratic oath that pledges its commitment to advance the health of the public and avoid inflicting any harm. The oath was drawn up by Reprieve as part of its campaign to block the use of medical drugs in executions.

Texas is the powerhouse of the death penalty in America. Since executions began in the modern era in 1976, the state has put to death 480 people – four times more than the next most plorific practitioner, Virginia, with 109.
Last year, it executed 13 prisoners, again far more than any other state.

The enthusiasm of  Texas for judicial killings became an issue in the presidential race last September when its governor, Rick Perry, told a cheering TV audience at a Republican nomination debate that he never lost sleep over the thought that some of the 240 people who have been executed on his watch may have been innocent.