While Idaho prepares for its next state-ordered lethal injection—using two syringes each carrying 2.5 grams of pentobarbital—scheduled for Tuesday, June 12, the state of Missouri has made the controversial decision to use an untested drug for its executions.
The Missouri Department of Corrections is opting to use propofol, known as the anesthetic that caused the overdose death of entertainer Michael Jackson. Missouri would be the first state ever to use propofol for a lethal injection.
Until recently, Idaho was one of 33 states that used a virtually identical three-drug process in execution. But makers of sodium thiopental—one of the three drugs used in the process—indicated that supplies were running out, forcing states to consider alternatives. Idaho quickly introduced a new one-drug option, using pentobarbital, which has been used in executions. But Missouri has opted to use propofol, causing a stir among critics, who question how the state could guarantee a drug that was untested for lethal injection won't cause pain and suffering for the condemned.
"This is very, very concerning with a drug that we don't know," death penalty opponent Kathleen Holmes told the Associated Press.