The Texas Tribune reports that a Civil District Judge in Austin (Suzanne Covington) has ruled that the State’s secret supply of execution drugs is illegal. Judge Covington ordered the State to disclose the source of their execution drugs, which was promptly appealed, in turn, by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). The Attorney General’s office, for what it is worth, was also confused as to why the TDCJ refused to disclose the source and composition of the death drugs to the condemned’s attorneys.
This underlying controversy, of course, revolves around a nationwide shortage of the drugs needed to implement a constitutionally sound death penalty mechanism. Historically, a three-drug cocktail of sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride was used to put down the prisoners, though most of these drugs were created nearly exclusively in Europe, which firmly rebuffs the death penalty (even Russia). Accordingly, Texas, alongside many other States, have shifted to a one-drug injection of solely pentobarbital. Still further shortages of these drugs have caused Texas (among others) to seek new supplies from compounding pharmacies. As even these are facing action from the American Pharmacy Association, prompting Texas to try and shield their identities.
This leads into what The Washington Post reported on yesterday, where a State District Judge in Oklahoma threw out the entire Capital Punishment system for similar reasons, because the state was withholding details about its execution drug.
Oddly enough, because of this ruling, the execution scheduled for tonight went on as planned. As the Associated Press reports, a Dallas man named Anthony Doyle was put to death for the brutal murder of a deliverywoman. Doyle, the fourth Texan executed this year, was the last to be executed before the new batch of pentobarbital came into use.
I’m not sure if I have ever really gone on a rant about capital punishment, but in case you have not figured it out already, I’m a huge opponent of it. Nearly ever other civilized country on the planet has long done away with the barbaric practice, and those who have not (e.g., India, Japan and South Korea) do not execute nearly as many individuals as us. Those that do are not who we should be emulating on domestic policies, our contemporaries such as China, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Simply put, executions are murder. People should never, under any circumstances, end the life of of another who is not serving as a direct threat. Otherwise, it is all about retribution. If you are a religious person, this should really be a no-brainer. “Thou Shall not Kill” and “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord” are pretty damn straightforward.