That's the title of Mike Ward's report in today's Austin American-Statesman. It's subtitled, "Increased costs due to new execution drug."
As Texas prison officials face the likelihood that one of the three drugs used in the nation's busiest execution chamber might no longer be available, they are facing another reality: The cost of executions is skyrocketing as well.
A year ago, it cost the Texas Department of Criminal Justice $83.35 to carry out an execution. But since the state was forced to switch from one powerful sedative to another, the cost is now $1,286.86.
That means that the 12 executions carried out so far with the new drug have cost taxpayers more than $15,400, instead of $1,000.
"The cost of all three drugs has gone up, but the overall increase is because of pentobarbital," Jason Clark, a spokesman for the corrections agency, said Thursday.
Nearly a year ago, in March, the state replaced sodium thiopental with pentobarbital in its three-drug execution cocktail after the maker of sodium thiopental stopped producing it amid international protests over its use in executions in the United States.
Now, the state faces the same dilemma again, after the manufacturer of pentobarbital said it will seek to block its use for executions.
Although Texas prison officials say they have enough of the drug to carry out the five executions scheduled so far this year, they are not discussing any details concerning their suppliers or exactly how much of the drug they have on hand — or even what they plan to do next.
Texas officials are increasingly reluctant to publicly discuss most aspects of the execution process for fear of driving up the costs further or impairing their drug supply.
"We can't comment on that," Clark said several times when asked for more details, even those that a year ago were public.
Texas prison officials are seeking a ruling from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to allow them to keep secret many details about execution drugs, where they come from, even how much they cost.
Corrections officials in Texas and other states are saying little about what other drug they might switch to, if the supply of pentobarbital dries up. But propofol is frequently mentioned in private conversations.
That is the powerful sedative that was blamed in the death of entertainer Michael Jackson in June 2009.
"Lethal injection drugs harder and harder to find," is Rina Palta's report for California public radio station KALW-TM.
For the second time in as many years, a drug commonly used in executions will become unavailable.
Word’s come out that pentobarbital, a barbituate several states use in lethal injections, will be much harder to find shortly, as the sole FDA-approved manufacturer of the drug is refusing to sell it to states that use it for executions. Pentobarbital, incidentally, became widely adopted just last year as a replacement for sodium thiopental, which was recently discontinued by its US maker.
States using pentobarbital in executions include Oklahoma, Florida, Ohio, and Texas. California, meanwhile, has a stockpile of sodium thiopental, which expires in 2014. California obtained its supply from a company in the United Kingdom. European countries have since prohibited companies from selling the drug to US states seeking to use it to carry out the death penalty.