Two years has passed since we posted about the shortage of sodium thiopental in Florida and Texas and elsewhere, and how this necessary component of the three-drug "cocktail" used in death penalty executions was causing all sorts of problems with criminal justice officials in different parts of the country.

See:  Pentobarbital in Florida Executions: What’s Next and Tennessee is Considering Using Pentobarbital in Its Executions, the Drug Used to Put Down Pets for more details.

Now, pentobarbital is back in the news as media reports in the New York Times, the National Journal, and lots of other national medical sources are reporting that this drug isn’t going to be available to executioners here in the United States.  

It’s a big problem that still hasn’t found a solution for those seeking to enforce capital punishment: having a ready supply of lethal drugs to execute people with lethal drug injections. 

Propofol To Be Used by Missouri

On Monday, the New York Times reported that some states are considering their options, suggesting that states may follow Missouri’s lead and substitute propofol for the missing pentobarbital in their lethal drug cocktails.  

Yes, propofol is the drug administered to Michael Jackson, causing his death.

Will States Revert to Gas Chambers, Electric Chairs, Firing Squads, or Hangings?

There are some who are suggesting that lethal injections be halted as an execution method, reverting to other forms of execution which are still legal under many state laws, just not used since injections have been the preferred method for many years.

In Florida, the movement to return to the electric chair of the firing squad has been moving around the Florida Legislature for a couple of years now.  

For a list of alternative execution methods by state, see our post on the five current options for execution:

  • lethal injection
  • electric chair
  • hanging
  • firing squad
  • gas chamber.

And before people consider these archaic methods of execution as alternatives to the lethal injection, perhaps they would be well served to read the dissenting opinion of Florida Supreme Court Justice Leander J. Shaw, Jr. in the 1999 challenge to the use of Old Sparky on constitutional grounds. 

Justice Shaw attached 3 color photographs of the bloody body of Allen Lee Davis taken by a prison official shortly after he was executed by electric chair, as support for his dissenting opinion where he found the method to be unconstitutional insofar as it was cruel and unusual.   Justice Shaw’s attachments caused a worldwide clamor against this form of execution and are still used today by those fighting against capital punishment.  

Warning: don’t hit that link and go to the dissenting opinion if you find graphic images like this disturbing.