Delaware has 17 condemned prisoners facing the death penalty, but no means of executing any of them.
Like other states, Delaware prison officials have found it difficult to get the drugs used in lethal injections because major manufacturers several years ago began prohibiting the use of their products in executions out of ethical concerns and fearing the unwanted publicity.
As a result, supplies of two of the three drugs used in Delaware executions have expired, according to records obtained by the Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act. Moreover, prison officials aren’t even trying to get the necessary drugs.
“These drugs can be costly, and these drugs have a shelf life,” correction department commissioner Robert Coupe said. “There is also the challenge of navigating the marketplace because of the attention that this type of purchase gets.”
The source of the drugs is moving to the forefront of the death penalty debate, as lawyers and death penalty opponents seek to find out which companies are providing the drugs. Compounding pharmacies — which custom-mix prescription drugs for doctors and patients — seemed like the answer, but some of them are starting to back away, too.
Earlier coverage from Delaware begins at the link.