UK Halts Export of Execution Drug While US Judge Asks Whether Its Use is Cruel & Unusual

The battle over the lethal injection drug sodium thiopental continues. The US faces a massive shortage and states have considered everything from illegal secret imports to using a drug used for pet euthanasia to execute prisoners (somehow ending executions, period, has never come up).

Recently, theWall Street Journal reports that the UK has decided to register its moral opposition to the death penalty by monitoring exports of the drug.

"The U.K. government said Monday in a London court that it would issue an order requiring anyone supplying the anesthetic thiopental sodium to the U.S. to first obtain an export license.

Licenses will be denied if a risk exists that thiopental will be used in executions, said a government spokesman....

The move could complicate future executions, as the sole U.S. supplier of thiopental announced earlier this year it won't have a new batch ready until the first quarter of 2011, at the earliest."

Meanwhile, a judge in Tennessee halted executions in that state because of problems with the state's administration of drug to condemned prisoners and the fact that its execution procedure might allow for the cruel and unusual death by suffocation of the inmate.Gawker reports that the state has 90 days to make sure that it's not suffocating still-conscious inmates with sodium thiopental. And we wonder why the world finds us barbaric.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at November 30, 2010, 3:57am

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