Opposition to the death penalty is making it more difficult to execute people in America. Major drug companies have stopped selling several lethal injection drugs in the U.S., cutting off supplies and driving up costs. The states that still execute people are turning to compounding pharmacies to custom mix the drugs and trying out alternative drugs in sometimes-untested lethal cocktails. States are considering returning to the firing squad and the gas chamber. A few have even had to delay executions due to the drug shortages.
In March, one Oklahoma court postponed until April two executions after the state revealed it was still trying to determine what drugs to use, and another held that inmates have a constitutional right to know the source of lethal injection drugs. Meanwhile, Texas, another leading death penalty state, has been sued by two prisoners who want to know the source of a new supply of the sedative pentobarbital, which the state plans to use for executions starting this week.
The results of the latest lethal cocktails can be disturbing. On Jan. 9, Oklahoma executed convicted killer Michael Lee Wilson by lethal injection using a drug cocktail that contained pentobarbital. According to Time, the use of pentobarbital is controversial because "its manufacture is often poorly regulated, and contaminated batches can cause excruciating pain prior to death." Wilson's last words were, "I feel my whole body burning."
A week later on Jan. 16, Ohio executed convicted rapist and murderer Dennis McGuire by lethal injection with an untested combination of drugs -- the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone. It took him 25 minutes to die.
Infographic by Jan Diehm for The Huffington Post.