Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 4:00 PM ET, 01/24/2011

Halt in production of lethal drug to be issue in Md. death penalty deliberations

By John Wagner

A new wrinkle has emerged in Maryland's deliberations over resuming the use of the death penalty: Word that the U.S. company that makes a drug used in lethal injections is halting its production.

A legislative review panel has scheduled a Feb. 16 hearing on regulations developed by the O'Malley administration that would allow executions to resume. There has been an effective moratorium on capital punishment in Maryland since December 2006, when the state's highest court ruled that new regulations were needed.

The regulations proposed by O'Malley's Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services include multiple references to the drug in question, sodium thiopental, which is also known as sodium pentothal.

Shortages of the drug made by Hospira of Lake Forest, Ill., have been an issue in some states that use it. And any supply still on hand in Maryland -- which last executed a prisoner in 2005 -- has since expired, according to a corrections department spokesperson.

Pinsky mug.jpg"I think this throws the whole thing into reverse," said Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George's), a co-chairman of the legislative review panel.

Some lawmakers have accused Pinsky and other death penalty opponents of deliberately delaying the resumption of executions.

For the first three years of his first term, Gov. Martin O'Malley, who also opposes capital punishment, unsuccessfully lobbied the legislature to abolish the death penalty rather than resume its use. More recently, O'Malley has encouraged the review panel to act on the proposed regulations.

Rick Binetti, a spokesman for the corrections department, said it is too soon to know how Hospira's decision will effect Maryland's regulations. But Binetti said he expects it to be among the issued discussion Feb. 16.

If the department decides to develop new procedures, using a different drug, it would have to issue new regulations that would further delay the process.

"The agency has some tough thinking to do, and I think the governor is going to have to give them some direction," Pinsky said.

By John Wagner  | January 24, 2011; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly, Governor, John Wagner  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Investment fund, wind energy top O'Malley session agenda
Next: O'Malley numbers up in new poll; majority supports same-sex marriage

No comments have been posted to this entry.

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company