This is truly life or death. Get it right.


It just seems that there are less and less things being made in America these days.

Coastal Point • Monica Scott
We’ve seen factory jobs go overseas, and seen those manufactured items come back to land on our shelves. Check the tag on your shirt. Look at the back of a toy. Read the label on your lethal injection pack.

If there’s something to be made, rest assured it’s probably being made somewhere else.

Wait. What? Lethal injections?

That’s right. On Tuesday night, the state of Arizona executed Jeffrey Landrigan for a 1989 murder. Apparently, there has been a nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental since the spring. This is the drug that makes an inmate unconscious before a second drug paralyzes him or her and the third drug stops the heart.

So Arizona got the drug from another country — in this case, Britain.

“This drug came from a reputable place,” said Arizona’s Chief Deputy Attorney General Tim Nelson, in an interview with the Associated Press. “There’s all sorts of wild speculation that it came from a third-world country, and that’s not accurate.”

So, yeah, there’s that.

Look, I’m not going to launch into a debate over whether or not this nation should utilize the death penalty. There are plenty of strong arguments on both sides, and I find myself going back and forth on the issue from time to time — particularly lately, as so many people have been released from death sentences after being cleared by DNA testing that was either not available or deemed too expensive at the time of these individual’s trials.

But you’d think that if we took it upon ourselves to end a human being’s life, we’d at least have the ability to do it without getting the drugs from another country.

The only U.S. manufacture of sodium thiopental is Hospira Inc. They blame the shortage on problems with its raw-material suppliers and said it won’t be until at least January when new batches will be made available.

So why don’t states just go to another drug that essentially does the same thing? Because many states have laws so specific to the method in which a prisoner must be executed that new laws would have to be created to even change one drug in the fatal cocktail.

In fact, both Ohio and Washington have switched their laws to where only one drug is used in hopes of avoiding a high-profile problem of something not working correctly during executions. That one drug? Sodium thiopental.

So, what’s going to happen from here? One important thing to keep in mind is that the sodium thiopental that the state of Arizona procured from Britain has not been approved by the FDA. That caused a delay in Landrigan’s execution, and others think there could be more problems. If it’s not approved by the FDA, how do officials know that it’s truly effective, and doesn’t just cause a painful death for the prisoner?

“It really opens the door to Eighth Amendment challenges that go to the heart of whether executions work the way they’re supposed to,” said Ty Alper, associate director of the death penalty clinic at the University of California-Berkley, in the AP article.

There’s a death penalty clinic at UC Berkley? The title alone makes me think of people getting together to learn how to execute people. Is this a major offered at the school? Are there classrooms dedicated to ...

But I digress.

Look, if we’re going to have the death penalty in this country, we need to use our best resources to make sure the person getting executed actually did the crime, and we need to make sure it’s done the way our laws say it must be done. It’s kind of important.