Drug problem halts capital punishment, maybe forever | Arkansas Blog

Monday, October 28, 2013

Drug problem halts capital punishment, maybe forever

Posted By on Mon, Oct 28, 2013 at 9:46 AM

INACTIVE: Arkansas's death chamber.
  • INACTIVE: Arkansas's death chamber.
The National Journal offers a long look at the troubled state of capital punishment in the U.S. thanks to the lack of acceptable drugs for the lethal injection process.

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is featured prominently, for the discussion he's tried to begin over the inability to conduct executions in Arkansas (none since 2005, despite 40 Death Row inmates) and his pessimism about correcting the lack of drugs.

"Our system is completely broken, and I don't know how to say it more bluntly than that," McDaniel told National Journal. "It's a complete impossibility. I can no more flap my arms and fly across the state than I can carry out an execution."

Doctors and researchers aren't exactly clamoring to develop new methods of killing people, and no one is advocating a regression to older forms of execution, like the electric chair or gas chamber. But even if a new, cutting-edge technique was developed somewhere, that too would almost certainly provoke a torrent of litigation.

"Let's say that there was magically a vapor, a mist, a pill, a fatal hypnotic stare. You still have to find American manufacturers who are willing to produce it and courts who are willing to accept it," McDaniel said. "I don't see any of that happening. It's science fiction and legal fiction."

McDaniel said he has considered turning to compounding pharmacies—where products are chemically crafted to fit an individual person's needs—within the state to produce lethal-injection cocktails as "the only remaining option." But despite successes found in Georgia, South Dakota, and Texas, McDaniel predicts that "there is no way a compounding pharmacy will pass the litigation muster."

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