Justices Uphold Use Of Drug Implicated In Botched Executions | KERA News

Justices Uphold Use Of Drug Implicated In Botched Executions

Jun 29, 2015

The Supreme Court has upheld the use of a controversial drug that has been implicated in several botched executions.

The justices on Monday voted 5-4 in a case from Oklahoma that the sedative midazolam can be used in executions without violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

The drug was used in executions in Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma in 2014 that took longer than usual and raised concerns that it did not perform its intended task of putting inmates into a coma-like sleep.

The Texas Tribune reports:

The Texas prison system uses one drug now, pentobarbital, to execute death row inmates. However, the Texas system confirmed last year that it has purchased midazolam. Officials will not say how the drug is being used.

"The U.S. Supreme Court ruling does not have an impact on TDCJ," said Jason Clark, the agency's spokesman. "Midazolam is not utilized in our execution process."

Texas, which has executed 527 inmates since 1982 and has struggled with keeping execution drugs in stock for at least the past four years, currently has 40 vials of midazolam that will expire next spring.