Texas prison officials have acquired a small supply of pentobarbital to replenish their dwindling inventory of the execution drug so lethal injections set for next month in the nation's most active death penalty state can be carried out, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said Wednesday.
Four prisoners already have been put to death this year in Texas. That left enough pentobarbital in the state's inventory to conduct only one more lethal injection, the scheduled April 9 execution of Kent William Sprouse, convicted of the shooting deaths of a North Texas police officer and another man in 2002. Sprouse is the first of four Texas inmates set to die in April.
The agency now has a sufficient amount of the powerful sedative for the other three, spokesman Jason Clark confirmed. At least two more prisoners face punishment in May and June and would require yet another drug acquisition.
Pharmaceutical companies, under pressure from death penalty opponents, have stopped selling U.S. prisons drugs for lethal injections. So Texas and other states have turned to less regulated compounding pharmacies for made-to-order drugs. States also are exploring other methods of execution.
As in the past, Texas prison officials Wednesday refused to identify the provider of the new supply.
Officials have insisted the drug supplier's identity should remain secret to keep the provider from harm and threats of retaliation.
Clark would confirm only that the new drugs were purchased "from a licensed pharmacy that has the ability to compound." He declined to say if it was the same provider the agency has used previously.
"We continue to explore all options including the continued used of pentobarbital or alternate drugs to use in the lethal injection process," he said.
Texas prison officials could change the drug used for executions but Texas lawmakers would have to enact any change of method.
Source: The Associated Press, Michael Graczyk, March 25, 2015
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