The Texas Attorney General has ordered Texas prison authorities to release information on the amount of drugs on hand to carry out executions. We now know that Texas’ total supply of one of the three drugs used to perform executions is set to expire in March 2011, so Texas will have to try to obtain more of that drug, unless it decides to use the expired batch, which would probably be challenged in court.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice just made public these new details about the three drugs used in executions:Sodium Thiopental 118 1 gram vials 118 vials will expire March 2011
Purchase date July 2009Pancuronium Bromide 185 10 milligram vials 60 vials will expire March 2012 / Purchase date March 2010 125 vials will expire December 2011 / Purchase date December 2010Potassium Chloride 578 20 milliequivalent vials 125 vials will expire September 2011 / Purchase date March 2010 453 vials will expire July 2011 / Purchase date March 2010At present, Texas has only one execution scheduled after March. Current executions are set in January, February and July.Sodium Thiopental has been in short supply nationally since earlier this year when the sole U.S. manufacturer stopped making the drug, blaming a lack of ingredients. At least two states have since delayed or halted executions because they are out of Sodium Thiopental or because their supply has expired and cannot be used.Until this afternoon, Texas prison officials had refused to disclose how much of the various drugs they had on hand and when their supplies expired.
In a new decision, Attorney General Greg Abbott has ordered Texas prison officials to make public previously secret details about the drugs they use in lethal executions.The five-page ruling dismisses the arguments by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice that the quantities, expiration dates and purchase information should be kept a state secret because it could disrupt the execution process in the state with the busiest death chamber.The decision represented a victory for disclosure advocates, who had argued that prison officials were incorrect in insisting that making the details public might trigger violent protests outside the execution chamber in Huntsville or even embolden death penalty opponents, if they knew the state was about to run short of the drugs.TDCJ could release the information, or file suit against the attorney general. If it releases the information, the documents could provide the first details in years about the three drugs Texas uses in executing criminals, information that used to be public but in recent years has been restricted.