Georgia's supply of execution drug seized by DEA

Started by Amanda, March 18, 2011, 06:23:31 AM

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Amanda

DEA seizes Georgia's supply of execution drug

http://www.ajc.com/news/dea-seizes-georgias-supply-873788.html

March 16, 2011

The Drug Enforcement Administration has seized Georgia's supply of a key execution drug over questions about how it was imported to the United States.

"Drugs were seized today by the DEA from our facility in Jackson," Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kristen Stancil told the AJC.

The seizure comes more than two weeks after an attorney representing a death row inmate from Cobb County wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder saying the Georgia Department of Corrections circumvented federal law in trying to quickly secure a scarce drug used in lethal injections.

"DEA did take control of the controlled substances today," DEA spokesman Chuvalo Truesdell told the AJC. "There were questions about the way the drugs were imported over here."

Truesdell declined further comment, saying it is now "a regulatory investigation."

John Bentivoglio, a former associate deputy U.S. attorney general in Washington, described extraordinary steps the DOC took to get the sedative thiopental, a scheduled III non-narcotic controlled substance, when a shipment for several states, including Georgia, was held by U.S. Customs in Memphis last summer.

The letter said Corrections is not registered with the federal government to import drugs and the agency did not "submit a declaration to the Drug Enforcement Administration when GDC imported thiopental last year.

Stancil told the AJC after the letter was mailed, the agency asked the DEA for assistance "to make sure that the department was in compliance with the way we handled controlled substances."

Like many states that execute criminals, Georgia uses a three-drug cocktail. The first one is a sedative. The second drug paralyzes the inmate. The third drug stops the heart.

But thiopental, the sedative, has been in short supply nationwide because companies in this country and abroad have refused to provide it if it is going to be used in an execution. Several states have had to delay executions because the drugs they have in stock had expired. In Georgia, that same concern has been raised in two scheduled executions, the death of Emmanuel Hammond Jan. 25 and the delayed execution of Roy Willard Blankenship in February.

No execution dates in Georgia have been scheduled and it's unlikely any will be set before the issue is resolved, the Associated Press reported.


~

Yeah, I know a similar article was posted by Kitten Resq in the US Crime News forum but I thought since it relates to death penalty news in Georgia, I'd post this article here. Hopefully that isn't a problem... Here's hoping this issue will be resolved soon. :)

Amanda

Georgia considers execution drug switch

Monday, April 11, 2011

http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/ohio-news/apnewsbreak-ga-considers-execution-drug-switch-1133720.html

ATLANTA -- Georgia prison officials are laying the groundwork to swap out a key sedative used for lethal injections after federal regulators took the state's stockpile of sodium thiopental that is in short supply nationwide, according to more than 1,000 pages of documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

State Department of Corrections officials met with counterparts in Ohio and Oklahoma, two states that have already used another drug, pentobarbital, to execute inmates. They have also collected hundreds of pages of legal filings and other documents about the use of pentobarbital in those states, according to files obtained through an open records request.

The trips came a week after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration took Georgia's supply of sodium thiopental over questions whether the state circumvented law to get it. The move effectively blocked Georgia from scheduling and carrying out any executions.

Rob Jones, the legal counsel for the department, said Monday that there's no timetable on a switch and that the final decision would come from Brian Owens, the department's commissioner. Officials were still researching to find the "best way to carry out this procedure in the most humane way possible."

Georgia would be the fourth state to switch to pentobarbital, a surgical sedative that's also commonly used to euthanize animals. Oklahoma, Ohio and Texas have already switched, and Arizona and Mississippi said they were planning on it.

The documents include hundreds of pages of court records, legal rulings, expert witness statements and testimony from cases in Oklahoma and Ohio. State policymakers are also reviewing independent data, including a 2010 medical study on the impact of pentobarbital on patients suffering from brain trauma and a 2008 law review article that details how sodium thiopental works.

Corrections officials also sought to get a more direct look at what other states were doing. Jones and Carl Humphrey, warden of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, which houses the state's death row, met with counterparts in Oklahoma in late March. They traveled to Ohio a week later, where they were shown a walkthrough of execution procedure, Jones said.

Oklahoma uses pentobarbital as part of a three-drug combination while Ohio uses a single dose of the drug to execute inmates.

The trove included some data that didn't refer to pentobarbital as well. One document was a 2010 report from the Oregon Public Health Division on a state law that allows terminally ill patients to get lethal doses of prescription drugs from their physicians. Someone highlighted a line in the report that noted two of the patients who took the medications did not immediately die.

Many of the nation's 34 death penalty states have scrambled over the last year to find a new supplier of sodium thiopental since its sole manufacturer in the U.S. stopped making the drug. Several states postponed executions and some have looked overseas to secure a supply.

Georgia's stockpile of sodium thiopental -- believed to be around 20 grams, enough for at least four executions -- has been under scrutiny since corrections officials released documents that said the state bought the drug from Dream Pharma, a company in London that has the same address as the Elgone Driving Academy.

Defense attorneys call it a fly-by-night pharmacy, and critics say Georgia may have failed to properly register with the DEA before importing a controlled substance. The firm hasn't responded to several email and phone calls seeking comment.

Jones said Monday the department has not yet heard back from the DEA. He said state officials are confident in the quality of the sodium thiopental supply, which was used to execute two inmates.

"We didn't have any questions about whether or not it was somehow flawed," he said.

Georgia is not the only death penalty state under federal scrutiny. The DEA has also taken supplies of sodium thiopental from Kentucky and Tennessee, preventing any executions in those states.

Substituting a new drug would clear the way for Georgia to execute Troy Anthony Davis, who was convicted in the 1989 slaying of a Savannah police officer.

Prosecutors spent more than two decades trying to execute him and won a key legal battle in March when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected what could be his final appeal. But the state couldn't schedule his execution because it didn't have the lethal injection drug.

The intense jockeying for sodium thiopental has grown worse since Hospira Inc. of Lake Forest, Ill., announced in January it will no longer make the drug.

Records reviewed by AP found that as supplies of sodium thiopental dwindled, Georgia and at least six other states -- Arizona, Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Nebraska and Tennessee -- obtained the drug overseas, with several of them citing Georgia as the trailblazer.

v1976ra

Another alphabet agency sticking its ugly nose into a state's business. This nonsense has been happening since the Civil War...  ???

deeg

Doesn't the DEA have better things to do then interfere with a State's constitutional right and responsibility to uphold justice?  >:( >:(

Dee
The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money - Margaret Thatcher
The most terrifying words in the English language: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." - Ronald Reagan

Dilligaf


Doesn't the DEA have better things to do then interfere with a State's constitutional right and responsibility to uphold justice?  >:( >:(

Dee


One of my childhood friends is a Senior Agent with the DEA, his perspective was that this reeked of politics but would not elaborate as to the bacground reasons.  May have to break out the Colombian rum and ply him with a few shots.....

Amanda

Georgia to use different execution drug

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jkljaldJv0_dZoTBW7HXOHQX2PwA?docId=04f6abf3a89043baa69942f988797d1f

Friday May 20, 2011

ATLANTA (AP) -- Executions in Georgia could soon resume after prison officials decided to swap out a lethal injection drug that was surrendered to federal regulators, the corrections department said Friday.

The Georgia Department of Corrections will substitute pentobarbital for sodium thiopental, a drug that was in scarce supply nationwide even before Georgia's stash was taken by the Drug Enforcement Administration in March, said Robert Jones, the department's general counsel.

"We're confident it will be effective," Jones said of the pentobarbital, which would be used in combination with pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride. Jones said pentobarbital was picked because it's readily available throughout the U.S. and because several other capital punishment states have already adopted it.

"We await guidance and instruction from courts in Georgia," he said. "We stand ready to carry out those orders now."

Georgia was forced to surrender its supply of sodium thiopental to the DEA amid questions about whether the prison officials circumvented the law to obtain the supply. The Georgia Attorney General's office said the move effectively halted executions in Georgia because corrections officials didn't have the necessary supplies to carry one out.

Switching to pentobarbital should allow the state to move ahead with the execution of Troy Anthony Davis, whose high-profile case has become a rallying point for opponents of the death penalty.

Prosecutors have spent more than two decades trying to execute Davis, who was sentenced to die for the 1989 slaying of a Savannah police officer, and the state won a key legal battle in March when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected what could be his final appeal. But prosecutors couldn't schedule his execution because Georgia didn't have the lethal injection drug.

Chatham County District Attorney spokeswoman Alicia Johnson said the office was "not immediately" filing paperwork to seek an execution order for Davis, but his supporters were already readying for a legal fight.

Many of the nation's 34 death penalty states have scrambled to find a new supplier of sodium thiopental after Hospira Inc., its sole manufacturer in the U.S., said in January it would no longer make the drug. Several states postponed executions amid the shortage, and records reviewed by the Associated Press found that Georgia and at least six other states obtained sodium thiopental overseas.

Georgia's stockpile of the drug came under more scrutiny when corrections officials released documents in court that showed the state bought the drug from Dream Pharma in London. Defense attorneys call Dream Pharma a fly-by-night supplier that operates from the back of a driving school. The firm hasn't responded to repeated emails and phone calls seeking comment.

John Bentivoglio, who represents a condemned Georgia inmate, said in a letter that Georgia may have also failed to properly register with the DEA before importing a controlled substance. He said the violation means "adulterated, counterfeit or otherwise ineffective" sodium thiopental could be used in executions, violating the ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Jones said the corrections department is cooperating with the investigation, and that he had no concerns about the quality of the state's supply of sodium thiopental, which was used to execute two inmates.

"They were appropriately packaged, appropriately labeled. We're confident also the state didn't break any criminal laws of any kind," said Jones. "It's a regulatory question, and the question was whether we had sent a letter to the DEA advising them we were importing from overseas."

The Justice Department declined to comment on the probe.

Georgia officials have laid the groundwork for a switch for weeks. Corrections officials met with counterparts in Ohio and Oklahoma, which have already used pentobarbital to execute inmates. They have also collected hundreds of pages of legal filings and other documents about the drugs, and drafted several proposals for the switch, according to more than 1,000 pages of files reviewed by The Associated Press.

Georgia is one of at least 10 states that have switched or are considering a switch to pentobarbital, a surgical sedative that's also commonly used to euthanize animals.

Several Georgia death row inmates, including Davis, have exhausted or nearly exhausted their appeals. State authorities have set three previous execution dates for Davis since 2007 only to have each postponed so judges could review the case.

Laura Moye of Amnesty International USA, which has helped stage dozens of rallies in support of Davis, said capital punishment is an "error-prone system that has sent far too many innocent people to death row."

"Replacing the supply of sodium thiopental amounts to nothing more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," said Moye, who heads the group's anti-death penalty campaign.


Sylar24

i hope they start setting dates here soon i would love to see that smug bastered davis be the frist with the  new drug.

AnneTheBelgian

http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/georgia-has-lethal-injection-968847.html

Atlanta News 5:18 p.m. Monday, June 6, 2011

Georgia has lethal injection drugs; execution ordered

By Bill Rankin

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Now that Georgia has obtained a new supply of a key lethal-injections drug, a judge has ordered an execution go forward for a man on death row for killing a Savannah woman 33 years ago.

State Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kristen Stancil on Monday said the agency had received a supply of the barbiturate pentobarbital, which will be used as one of three drugs in the state's new lethal-injection process.

Executions in Georgia have been on hold since March when the Drug Enforcement Administration seized the state's supply of sodium thiopental. Lawyers for a death-row inmate had questioned whether the state illegally obtained its stockpile of that drug, which is no longer made in the U.S., from a pharmaceutical company in London last year.

Corrections recently announced it is substituting pentobarbital for sodium thiopental. Pentobarbital, used as a sedative, will be used as the first of three lethal-injection drugs, followed by pancuronium bromide, a muscle relaxer that stops breathing, and potassium chloride, which causes cardiac arrest.

The agency disclosed its recent purchase of pentobarbital after Chatham County Superior Court Judge Michael Karpf ordered the execution of Roy Willard Blankenship, who sits on death row for the March 2, 1978, burglary, rape and murder of Sarah Mims Bowen, 78.

The state Board of Pardons and Paroles had stayed Blankenship's execution in February to allow for DNA testing. After the tests proved inconclusive, Karpf signed the order, directing Blankenship's execution to be carried out between June 23 and June 30.

Other orders are expected to be signed soon, setting execution dates for inmates such as Troy Anthony Davis, sentenced to death for killing an off-duty Savannah police officer in 1989, and Andrew Grant DeYoung, condemned to die for killing his parents and 14-year-old sister at their Cobb County home in 1993.

On Jan. 25, Emmanuel Hammond, who killed Atlanta preschool teacher Julie Love in 1988, was the last Georgia inmate put to death by lethal injection.

















Anne
"DEATH PENALTY OPPONENTS WHO TWIST THE TRUTH TO PROTECT KILLERS ARE ALSO TORTURING VICTIMS FAMILIES" (PETER BRONSON, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER,FEBRUARY 3, 2003)

PRO DEATH PENALTY AND PROUD OF IT !!!

JE MAINTIENDRAI (MOTTO OF WILLIAM I THE SILENT, PRINCE OF ORANGE, 1533 - 1584, MOTTO OF THE NETHERLANDS)

DEO JUVANTE (MOTTO OF THE PRINCIPALITY OF MONACO)

PROUD TO BE BELGIAN !!! I LOVE MY KINGDOM !!!

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