Lethal Injection

I assumed that our decision would bring the debate about lethal injection as a method of execution to a close. It now seems clear that it will not. The question whether a similar three-drug protocol may be used in other States remains open, and may well be answered differently in a future case on the basis of a more complete record. Instead of ending the controversy, I am now convinced that this case will generate debate not only about the constitutionality of the three-drug protocol, and specifically about the justification for the use of the paralytic agent, pancuronium bromide, but also about the justification for the death penalty itself.

Baze v. Rees (2008) U.S. Supreme Court (Stevens, J., concurring).

OVERVIEW

All states and the federal government use lethal injection as their primary method of execution. States use a variety of protocols using one, two, or three drugs. The three-drug protocol uses an anesthetic or sedative, typically followed by pancuronium bromide to paralyze the inmate and potassium chloride to stop the inmate's heart. The one or two-drug protocols typically use a lethal dose of an anesthetic or sedative.

State-By-State lethal injection information

Information on Compounding Pharmacies

Constitutional Issue - U.S. Supreme Court Review

Statements from drug manufacturers and medical professionals

Executions, including drugs used: 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009

Lethal Injection News & Developments - 2014 2013 2012

Articles and reports, including media coverage and information about secrecy

Official actions and court cases

RELATED RESOURCES

Methods of Execution by State (includes alternative methods inmates may choose)

Botched Executions - including descriptions of the flawed lethal injections in 2014 in Ohio, Oklahoma, and Arizona

Changes to state lethal injection protocols

Death Penalty in Flux (states where executions are on hold)

Autopsy photos of a botched lethal-injection execution in Florida (New Republic May 29, 2014).

More Information About the Attempted Execution of Romell Broom in Ohio and Supreme Court Precedents

Picture of DreamPharma, international source for drugs used in some U.S. executions

"Lethal injection scramble" map from ACLU of Northern California shows which states have obtained sodium thiopental from foreign sources, and includes information on price and quantity of drugs and DEA seizures

Stays granted related to Baze v. Rees

Earlier state actions


Statements from drug manufacturers and other medical professionals

Return to top


Changes to state execution protocols

Return to top


Articles and Reports

Return to top


Official actions and court cases

  • Report from the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety on the execution of Clayton Lockett (Sept. 4, 2014)

        QUOTATIONS FROM THE OKLAHOMA REPORT:

  • The physician had never attempted femoral vein access with a 11⁄4 inch needle/catheter; however, it was the longest DOC had readily available. An additional central venous catheterization kit was available, but the physician did not think about utilizing one for femoral access.
  • The physician approached Lockett and indicated to Warden Trammell that something was wrong. He looked under the sheet and recognized the IV had infiltrated. At this same time, Warden Trammell viewed what appeared to be a clear liquid and blood on Lockett’s skin in the groin area. The physician observed an area of swelling underneath the skin and described it as smaller than a tennis ball, but larger than a golf ball. The physician believed the swelling would have been noticeable if the access point had been viewed during the process.
  • Warden Trammell and Director Patton both acknowledged the training DOC personnel received prior to the execution was inadequate. Warden Trammell stated the only training she received was on-the-job training and that DOC had no formalized training procedures or processes concerning the duties of each specific position’s responsibility. The warden and director both indicated DOC had no training protocols or contingency plans on how to proceed with an execution if complications occur during the process.
  • General Counsel Mullins further told Director Patton that they would begin preparing a stay at the direction of the Governor. Lockett died prior to the order for a stay being relayed to the personnel inside the execution chamber. There was conversation inside the chamber about administering life-saving measures to Lockett, including transporting him to the emergency room, but no order was given.

Other Legal Resources

Return to top