Lawyers claim Texas is supplying Virginia with execution drugs. Is that legal?

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Lawyers claim Texas is supplying Virginia with execution drugs. Is that legal?.

Texas prison officials are helping Virginia prepare to put a man to death for the first time since 2013 by providing a hard-to-come-by lethal injection drug in the midst of a nationwide shortage. After extraditing Alfredo Prieto from California because the state was taking too long to kill him, Virginia is set to execute the serial killer using drugs from Texas.The Texas Department of Criminal Justice on Friday shot down allegations that it is manufacturing its own hard-to-find execution drugs after federal defense attorneys in an Oklahoma death row case accused the Texas prison system of doing exactly that.Two years ago, The Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy backed out of its deal with the state and demanded prison officials return its vials of pentobarbital, the sedative Texas uses to execute inmates.

Lawyers for Oklahoma inmate Richard Glossip also said in a federal court filing Thursday that Texas is ‘compounding or producing pentobarbital within its department for use in executions.’ Lawyers for Oklahoma inmate Richard Glossip, who is pictured here is also said in a federal court filing Thursday that Texas is ‘compounding or producing pentobarbital within its department for use in executions’ Texas prisons spokesman Jason Clark said the Texas agency gave Virginia three vials of the drug, but said the state does not have a license to manufacture its own pharmaceuticals. Next week, the state plans to execute Alfredo Prieto, sentenced to death in the killings of two George Washington University students near Reston in 1988. Glossip, 52, who has always maintained his innocence as he languished on death row for almost 18 years, was set to be executed in the state’s death chamber in McAlester at 3pm local time. Several death penalty states have passed laws to keep the source of their execution chemicals confidential to protect pharmacies that mix them from negative publicity and protests.

When asked for more information about the supplier, Clark declined, citing a new state law that allows information about execution drug providers to remain secret. This summer, a federal appeals court upheld the death sentence, rejecting Prieto’s claim he was ineligible for execution due to an intellectual disability. In court documents, Glossip alleged that Texas was making its own pentobarbital and argued that was at odds with what Oklahoma has said about its inability to obtain the drug.

But in 2011, under pressure from anti-death penalty activists in the United States and abroad, the companies stopped selling their goods to correctional systems. States across the nation have struggled to obtain execution drugs because pharmaceutical companies have been pressured to stop selling them to prisons for lethal injections.

Asked for proof of the claim that one of the nation’s largest prison system now makes pentobarbital, Dale Baich, an assistant federal public defender in Arizona whose office is assisting its counterparts in Oklahoma, said only: “We stand by the statement in our pleading.” The Oklahoma court filing stems from a lawsuit filed on Glossip’s behalf challenging that state’s use of midazolam, a sedative, that his lawyers argue subjects death row inmates to cruel and unusual punishment. But just three hours before Glossip was scheduled to die, the court granted an emergency stay of execution for two weeks in order to give ‘fair consideration’ to the new evidence his lawyers have presented. But the court documents which first revealed the deal with Virginia offer a possible explanation of how Texas has overcome its problems and recently stockpiled enough of the sedative to share it.

Terry McAullife supporting a request for Prieto to return to California and argue he is intellectually disabled, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “We believe that allowing Mr. But since that case has been tied up in appeals, the questions has remained each time Texas somehow finds more pentobarbital to kill death row inmates: Who’s selling Texas the drugs? Prieto’s execution to go forward on the evidence as it stands is unjustified scientifically and would endorse a misunderstanding of intellectual disabilities that was refuted long ago,” Jamie Liban, the group’s executive director, told the Times-Dispatch. Cary Bowen, an attorney for Prieto, told NBC Washington he will ask the appeals court to reconsider its decision, and if that fails said he will ask the U.S.

In the filing, Fairchild’s attorneys argue that Oklahoma prison officials should consider other lethal injection options besides midazolam, the drug used in the state’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett last year. Although the two medical centers contracted to provide health care to inmates — Texas Tech University and the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston — do have compounding licenses, Clark said neither of them has been asked to provide the drug. “We would not utilize them,” Clark said. Virginia has executed 110 convicts since 1976 — the year the Supreme Court reaffirmed the legality of the death penalty after having placed an effective moratorium on capital punishment in 1972.

In 2014, The Associated Press reported on the condition of an death row inmate after being injected with midazolam and a painkiller during an execution: Ohio’s lethal injection policy, like those in Missouri and Texas, calls for a single dose of pentobarbital. Buzzfeed reports that a TDCJ spokesman wouldn’t comment on how the pentobarbital was made, but did confirm that Texas provided the drug to Virginia prison officials. The cooperation in Prieto’s case demonstrates the problems states are having in carrying out death sentences, including difficulties obtaining suitable drugs and lengthy legal wranglings. The legislation, Senate Bill 1679, was intended to protect the companies providing the drugs from harassment and threats, according to author state Sen.

Without the transfer of drugs to Virginia, the state would not have had the lethal injection drugs on hand that are required to carry out Prieto’s pending execution. As these lethal drugs become harder to acquire, states are considering controversial measures to ensure executions carry on, including firing squads, electric chairs, and hanging. Greg Abbott ruled in support of the prison system and said he was convinced drug suppliers could be subject to “real harm” if their names were made public.

Though it is third behind Texas and Oklahoma in the number of executions since 1976, Virginia last carried out a death sentence in January 2013, when Robert Gleason chose the electric chair instead of lethal injection. In 2011, the European Union put severe restrictions on exports of drugs commonly used in executions, while several domestic drug manufacturers began cutting off supplies. Colleagues in Oklahoma’s attorney general’s office joked in emails that they might help in exchange for sought-after college football tickets – referred to as “sideline passes for Team Pentobarbital”.

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