Less Executions Executed. Why?
The war on drugs seems to be working too well in one arena. Shortages of sodium thiopental have helped reduce the number of lethal injection executions by 12 percent over the last year. New death sentences are also among the lowest rate since the reinstatement of the law in 1976. A total of 114 death sentences were given in 2010 which is down two-thirds since the peak in 1996. Reuters reports:
Executions were postponed or canceled in five states due to a shortage of the drug, it said. Arizona imported some from Britain, where executions have been abolished, but Britain is now restricting the drug’s exportation.
There have been 1,234 executions in the United States since 1976, nearly half of those carried out in Texas and Virginia.
Also known as sodium pentothol (trademarked name), sodium thiopental is a short-acting barbiturate that has uses than euthanasia including, anesthesia, coma induction and interrogation. It works similar to alcohol in that it binds to the same receptors in the brain and spinal cord where it reduces neuronal activity.