Finding an Execution Drug for TN ‘a Top Priority’

State officials are still looking for a drug to use in Tennessee executions, though no death row inmates are scheduled to die anytime soon, the Tennessean reports.
Department of Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield said the state’s lethal injection protocol is a top priority and he is pursuing alternative drugs. He declined to detail what options he was considering, but other states have turned to an alternative drug used in animal euthanasia.
“I’ve been a little cautious talking about this because some of it turns into litigation,” Schofield said in a recent interview. “I don’t have a time frame, but it’s a matter of urgency for us. We have been pushing and working. I want to assure that we haven’t been sitting on our hands.”
Eighty-four people sit on Tennessee’s death row. Sixty-seven have been there for more than 10 years. Six prisoners have been executed since 1960.
For death penalty opponents, the sudden shortage in 2011 of the anesthetic sodium thiopental has been a godsend.
Five states in recent years decided it was easier and cheaper to do away with their death penalties than to keep them.
“We’re very relieved,” said the Rev. Stacy Rector, with Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
“Unfortunately for us, until we get the (death penalty) statute repealed, it’s always going to be a concern.”

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