House Subcommittee Raises Concerns About Sourcing Unregulated Execution Drugs

By December 16, 2021 January 28th, 2022 No Comments

The House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties is demanding answers from the Department of Justice (DOJ) about whether Biden administration officials have any plans to procure or use pentobarbital, the lethal injection drug that the Trump administration obtained by circumventing federal laws and regulations and used to carry out 13 federal executions.

The request was made by Chair Jamie Raskin and Rep. Ayanna Pressley in a letter addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland. “Given its recent actions, we are concerned that DOJ may renew its efforts to obtain pentobarbital from non-FDA-regulated pharmacies for use in future federal executions,” they wrote.

On July 1, 2021, the Biden administration issued a moratorium on all federal executions pending a review of the federal death penalty. However, the Subcommittee expressed concern about the fact that the Justice Department recently “urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whose death sentence was overturned by an appeals court last year, raising new questions about its plans to resume federal executions.”

The letter asks that the Justice Department provide a briefing regarding the status of the federal death penalty review and its findings, any plans to resume executions or obtain pentobarbital, and DOJ’s policies, practices, or guidance on federal executions.