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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Update on Georgia's execution drugs

The lethal injection gurney at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Butts County, where the state executes convicted offenders.
  • Courtesy Georgia Dept of Corrections
  • The lethal injection gurney at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Butts County, where the state executes convicted offenders.
Back in January, Fresh Loaf reported on a very strange story: the discovery that the drugs used in the execution of Emmanuel Hammond came to Georgia from Dream Pharma Ltd., an unlicensed British company with its headquarters in the back of a London driving school.

Turns out the federal Drug Enforcement Agency has a bit of a problem with this discovery, too.

An attorney representing a Cobb County death row inmate wrote U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder a letter alerting him to this issue, claiming that Georgia skirted federal law in an attempt to quickly secure the lethal injection drugs (which, as reported in January, are no longer being produced domestically). In response, the DEA seized Georgia's supply of the drugs yesterday.

It gets deeper: allegedly, the state Department of Corrections is not federally authorized to import drugs and failed to notify the DEA when it imported them last year.

Other states are experiencing this same issue with thiopental, due to a widespread refusal of many companies to provide it if it is going to be used in an execution.

Georgia has no executions scheduled at the moment and will not schedule any more until this issue is resolved.

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