Oklahoma executed a man on January 15th. While that’s not new or newsworthy, this was the state’s first execution since April. Then the state took 43 minutes to kill a man by lethal injection. After review of its procedures Oklahoma opted to change its protocol to increase the dosage of the sedative midazolam to five times what it was before. While the most recent condemned man died in only 17 minutes, that was still longer than is typical.
Worth noting is that the amount of midazolam in the new Oklahoma protocol is still significantly lower than the amount Arizona has used in its executions, including a July 2014 execution that took over 2 hours. Following an investigation into that death, the state has decided to return to sodium thiopental. It may resort to midazolam in future executions if it has problems obtaining enough sodium thiopental.
Ohio has also opted to stop using midazolam in its execution protocol. The decision has prompted the delay of its next scheduled execution while the state procures sufficient quantities of the drugs it needs.
Recent executions in Georgia and Florida also occurred, both without incident, and both without a recent history of problematic executions.
As 2015 continues, I suspect there will be other incidents of drug shortages affecting executions. What isn’t clear is how well known such problems might be.