State Eyeing Second Option For Death Row Executions

March 27, 2014

(Photo courtesy of the Office of Arizona Attorney General)
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne

The state says it now has a second option for executing death row inmates, one that is already in use in the state of Ohio. The state Corrections Department will start using a new cocktail of drugs to administer lethal injections. 

Attorney General Tom Horne said the two-drug combination will be available if pentobarbital, the drug used in the state’s last 11 executions, is not available. Horne said DOC will use a combination of a sedative and a powerful painkiller to execute condemned prisoners. 

“You intravenously inject what’s in effect an anesthesia, something that puts you to sleep, and then in sufficient doses it causes your system to shut down," Horne said.

Horne said pentobarbital has been difficult to obtain, because its sole manufacturer refuses to sell it to states planning to use it in executions. He said the second option should help the state expedite executions.

The two drugs will replace pentobarbital for use in executions at the state prison in Florence.

The last 11 executions conducted by the state since 2011 used pentobarbital, but its sole manufacturer has refused to sell it to states for use in executions. Oklahoma and Texas turned to compounding pharmacies to get the drug, but Horne said those pharmacies faced threats, and that state law blocks release of the new drugs' supplier.

Updated 3/27/14 at 1:24 p.m.