"Bruning: Tweaks to death penalty method 'on the table'," is by Kevin O'Hanlon in the Lincoln Journal Star.
With the supply of a key lethal injection drug all but dried up, Attorney General Jon Bruning said state officials have discussed changing Nebraska's lethal injection protocol to ensure it still has a means to execute convicted murderers.
"The governor and I and the administration in the Corrections Department have talked about whether a change in the protocol is warranted," Bruning said Thursday. "Certainly … given the current circumstances, it's something that's on the table. A change in the protocol is something that we have been considering for quite some time."
The state's three-drug protocol calls for a dose of sodium thiopental to knock out the inmate, followed by pancuronium bromide to cause paralysis, then potassium chloride to stop the heart. But sodium thiopental now is next to impossible to buy, and Nebraska's supply of the drug expires in December.
Bruning says he would support the change.
"No question about it," Bruning said. "My goal is to do whatever we have to do to begin carrying out executions. If that includes changing the protocol, then that's what we have to do.
"In the end, that decision will be up to the governor, but certainly, I am in support of doing whatever we need to do to carry out executions and mete out justice. If he decides that is the route to go, I would support him. Absolutely."
Heineman's office declined to comment.
Nebraska's execution protocol, formulated by prison officials and vetted in public hearings, specifically refers to sodium thiopental. It could be changed but not without some effort, including a series of public hearings.
Defense lawyers are mounting legal challenges to the compounding pharmacy drugs, which are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A federal lawsuit filed in Texas says the use of such untested drugs for an execution would violate the U.S. constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
In 2011, Oklahoma changed the language of its law to remove the reference to specific drugs.
Bruning said a new protocol in Nebraska likely would be broad.
Earlier coverage of Nebraska lethal injection issues begins at the link.