Arizona Is Out Of Death-Penalty Drug Options

On May 31 the state of Arizona ran out of midazolam, a sedative which, when mixed with other drugs, can be used to carry out state-sponsored executions. Arizona officials later announced that the state had discontinued use of the drug altogether.

This is good news for opponents of the death penalty. Thanks to their advocacy, the supply of midazolam has all but dried up in Arizona and elsewhere. Better still, Arizona is no longer able to obtain other drugs used in executions, such as pentobarbital and sodium thiopental.

In a court filing this week, lawyers for the state basically admitted Arizona’s hands are tied. According to the documents, Arizona is not able to execute inmates at this time, due to lack of access to various execution drugs.

The last person to be executed in Arizona was Joseph Rudolph Wood. In 2014, Wood was given 15 doses of midazolam along with a pain killer. It took him two hours to die.

Following the botched execution, attorney’s from the public defender’s office filed suit on behalf of Wood and other Arizona inmates. A coalition of media organizations joined in the suit, asking the court to compel the state to fully disclose how it handles executions.

In a recent court filing, attorneys for the state of Arizona asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit. The state claims that the suit is now moot, citing the fact that it is no longer able to carry out executions, due to lack of access to lethal-injection drugs.

As Addicting Info reported here, federal authorities busted Arizona officials smuggling illegal drugs into the U.S. in October of last year. Federal agents confiscated an illegal shipment of sodium thiopental at the Phoenix Airport, which Arizona officials spent more than $27,000 of taxpayer money to obtain from Asia.

The states of Texas and Nebraska were also busted for smuggling illegal drugs into the country last year.

With Arizona’s recent decision to discontinue the use of midazolam, the state’s lack of access to other death penalty drugs in the U.S., and the federal government blocking attempts to obtain the drugs from overseas, Arizona is officially out of options for killing people.


Image credit: Wikimedia Commons