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The Prison Complex

Monday, Sep 28, 2015, 1:00 pm

Texas Provides Virginia with Lethal Injection Drugs Amid National Shortage

By George Lavender

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With drugs for lethal injections in short supply, Virginia has found a new supplier: Texas. As the New York Times reports, Texas has provided Virginia with the pentobarbital it needs to carry out the scheduled execution of Alfredo Rolando Prieto on Thursday.

The disclosure, which surfaced in a court filing in an Oklahoma death penalty case, was confirmed Friday by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Virginia prison officials also confirmed the trade, saying they needed pentobarbital to replace a dose of another drug they intended to use, midazolam, that will soon expire.

A spokesman for Texas prisons, Jason Clark, said the three vials of pentobarbital given to Virginia had been legally purchased from a compounding pharmacy, which he declined to name. Texas and Oklahoma are among a handful of states with laws — being challenged by death penalty opponents — that allow prison officials not to disclose where they get execution drugs.

Virginia prison officials gave Texas pentobarbital to use as a backup in 2013, and when Virginia asked for help this year, Mr. Clark said, “we reciprocated.” Continue reading… 

Critics of the death penalty have raised concerns about the exchange of drugs. Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told the Times the exchange between states “puts a whole new spin on the efforts by state departments of corrections for secrecy in the execution process,” 

The exchange came to light in court filings in the case of Richard Glossip, the condemned Oklahoma inmate, who won a reprieve earlier this month

George Lavender is an award-winning radio and print journalist based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @GeorgeLavender.

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