SC’s New Execution Drug Stirs Up Heated Conversations

( – The United States used to import the drugs used for lethal injections from Europe. In 2011, the European Union voted to prohibit the exportation of drugs used to carry out capital punishment. It went on to create a list of drugs that it wouldn’t sell to America, including pentobarbital, one of the critical drugs used in the death cocktail. South Carolina is one of the states that halted executions because it couldn’t get the drugs it needed, but now they’re set to begin again.

In May, the South Carolina Assembly passed a law to shield the names of its suppliers, procedures, and other information about lethal injections. The decision to pass the law came after the state’s lethal injection medications passed their expiration dates, and suppliers refused to sell the state more for fear that they would be publicly identified. For 12 years, the state was unable to carry out executions because of the issues.

On September 19, Bryan Stirling, the director of the state’s Department of Corrections, announced he’d purchased a supply of pentobarbital. He said the state would only use that to execute convicts moving forward. Previously, the state used a standard three-drug cocktail that included an anesthetic, a paralytic, and a drug to stop the heart. The state said its protocol to execute inmates is almost identical to that of the federal government and that other states only use one drug to carry out the executions.

Stirling has said his employees have about 1,300 contacts to purchase lethal injection drugs. There are currently 34 people on death row. Governor Henry McMaster (R) issued a statement saying, “Justice has been delayed for too long in South Carolina,” and the news brings them closer to being able to “carry out the rule of law.”

Jace Woodrum, the executive director of the ACLU of South Carolina, issued a statement saying the news had “little to do with justice.” He claimed the state’s “system of capital justice is broken,” saying death sentences are heavily dependent on who is in office at the time, the location of a crime, and the race of the victim. Woodrum alleged there are racial inequities in the system and said that it “perpetuates injustice” and “brutalizes” everyone.

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