Texas is too needle happy

Jake Mireles, Opinion Editor

In the state of Texas, which has a reputation for being a small government safe haven, serious governmental overreach is occurring. Ever since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, Texas has led the United States in state-sponsored executions, most of which utilize lethal injection. However, the government of Texas has recently come under scrutiny for being too needle-happy, and rightfully so. 

According to an article from the Texas Tribune, this past January the state of Texas used an expired lethal injection to execute Robert Fratta, who was convicted of hiring two men to kill his wife following their divorce in 1994. Despite a contentious legal battle involving an Austin judge placing a temporary injunction on the execution due to the expired nature of the drugs, the Texas Supreme Court ultimately ruled against her. As a result, Fratta was promptly put to death using the expired cocktail. This practice has come under criticism in the past and has recently been brought back to the limelight during the events leading up to Fratta’s execution. 

The practice of extending the expiration dates on lethal injections is nothing new. Texas has long been criticized for this practice, including an incident in 2018 involving multiple doses of expired lethal injections. 

Why is the state’s supply of lethal injections running dry? Per an article from Vox, “The shortage began around 2010, when drug suppliers around the world, including in the US, began refusing to supply drugs for the injections — out of either opposition to the death penalty or concerns about having their products associated with executions.” As Texas’ supply of lethal injections dwindled, they turned to compound pharmacies, which are “state-regulated agencies that mix their own drugs without federal oversight,” according to the Texas Tribune. Even this was not a permanent solution to the supply issue, as the owners of these compound pharmacies soon came under heavy public scrutiny due to the nature of their product.

Since then, Texas has managed to maintain its supply of lethal injections to match the number of executions they schedule by regularly extending the expiration date of the doses on hand. This practice has received heavy amounts of criticism, as defense lawyers claim that the expired drugs can cause “painful executions.”

It is extremely alarming that our government continues to administer a life-ending drug that is well past its shelf life. While the ethical ramifications surrounding the use of capital punishment remain ever-changing, the standards of state-sponsored execution must remain air-tight. So why is the state of Texas so insistent on administering capital punishment using expired drugs with no consideration of the consequences? The pain induced by these drugs was nothing short of cruel and unusual punishment at the hands of the government. Texas must end its violation of the rights of prisoners on death row and cease its use of expired lethal injections.