Kentucky may be set to join Missouri in establishing a one-drug lethal injection execution to avoid the court challenges of its present three-drug method. The Kentucky Justice Cabinet filed notice that it intends to propose new execution regulations next month.
Last week, Missouri became the first state to switch to using the drug propofol, the powerful anesthetic that caused the death of Michael Jackson.
Currently, Kentucky's law provides for the use of a single drug or a combination of sodium thiopental, pancurionium bromide and potassium chloride, which is used by other states including Georgia.
Sodium Thiopental Unavailable
But sodium thiopental has been difficult to obtain since the only U.S. maker of the drug stopped production in 2009. Some states, including Kentucky, bought a supply of the drug from a foreign manufacturer, but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration began seizing the supplies.
The state's three-drug process has come under further legal attacks as cruel and unusual punishment. Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd in April gave the state 90 days to make changes in his method or face a trial over it's three-drug method.
The judge said if Kentucky adopts a one-drug policy, similar to ones that have been upheld in Ohio and Arizona, the cruel and unusual claims "will be rendered moot."
Other States Use Pentobarbital
The Justice Cabinet's filing this week signaled that the state would be changing to a one-drug method, although details were not spelled out in the motion.
South Carolina, Oklahoma and Ohio plan to use pentobarbital , a powerful sedative, for their one-drug executions. At this time, only Ohio and Arizona have successfully carried out one-drug lethal injections.
No state has yet carried out a one-drug execution using propofol. If Judge Shepherd accepts the motion, Kentucky executions could resume later this year.