Tennessee Seeking Alternative Drugs to Be Used in Lethal Injection Process

Jan 4, 2013

Tennessee’s Department of Correction Commissioner says he’s pursuing the use of drugs that could be used to execute inmates on death row. The Volunteer State’s entire stock of a key lethal injection drug was confiscated by the federal government in 2011 over questions about whether the drugs were legally obtained.

Commissioner Derrick Schofield says his department is urgently working to secure drugs that could be used to execute inmates.

The Tennessean reports there are currently 84 people sitting on the state’s death row, with 67 of those inmates having been there for more than a decade. Since 2011, there’s been a national shortage of the drug thiopental, which was widely used by states during the lethal injection process.

Supporters of capital punishment say Tennessee should try to procure alternative drugs so that the Volunteer State can continue carrying out death sentences.

The issue comes at a time when some states are rethinking the issue altogether. Five states in recent years did away with the death penalty, citing studies that show it’s actually cheaper to eliminate the process and sentence death row inmates to life in prison without parole.