Colorado Independent Editor Susan Greene appeared on Democracy Now! Thursday morning to talk with hosts Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez about the scramble in Oklahoma reported by Katherine Fretland for The Colorado Independent this week to find drugs to conduct prisoner executions.
The story of the drug scramble highlights the way drug manufacturers — many of them headquartered in Europe — have pulled back on supplying them to avoid fueling the U.S. system of capital punishment, which has been condemned by human rights groups for decades. Responding to the shortage of drugs, state officials around the country have turned to a shadowy market supplied by pharmacies that mix unregulated versions of the drugs. These products may or may not be working properly, subjecting prisoners to unknown effects and raising questions about whether the executions where they are used are running afoul of constitutional bans on cruel and unusual punishment.
Documents published by the Independent show officials in Oklahoma joking about supplying its drugs to Texas, asking for football tickets and free passes on toll roads in exchange. The documents also reveal that prisoners were dying from injected anesthesia before the lethal heart- and lung-stopping drugs could be administered and that officials would nevertheless “dispose” of the lethal drugs by injecting them into the prisoner’s lifeless bodies.
In the interview, Greene also touches upon efforts being led by Colorado Corrections Chief Rick Raemisch to reform the state’s solitary confinement policies.
Democracy Now! is releasing a full transcript later today.