U.S. states considering alternative execution methods face legal hurdles

Reuters: States with the death penalty that are running short of the drugs needed to carry out lethal injections will face legal challenges if they take up other methods of execution such as toxic gas or firing squads, defense lawyers said.

Some of the 31 U.S. states with capital punishment are considering alternatives because of a sales ban by global pharmaceutical companies that began five years ago over ethical concerns. Death penalty critics say that attempts to use substitute drugs made by lightly-regulated companies, meanwhile, have created quality control issues.

This week, a convoluted legal battle unfolded in Arkansas over the state's plan to execute eight convicts in 11 days. The rushed schedule was prompted by the expiration at the end of April of the state's supply of the Valium-like sedative midazolam, which is used to sedate prisoners before death. The drug has been linked to several botched executions.

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