Documents obtained by the ethics watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and investigative journalists at ProPublica revealed the myriad ways in which the Trump administration has circumvented federal laws and regulations to carry out lethal injection executions between July 2020 and January 2021.
CREW found that the Trump administration was in such a rush to execute people that it sought to enter into a no-bid contract to obtain pentobarbital, a drug which, when given in lethal quantities, can cause ”flash pulmonary edema” and produce sensations of drowning and strangulation. During the federal government’s execution of Alfred Bourgeois in December 2020, witnesses reported that he “could not stop heaving and shaking” and was “spotted open-mouthed and writhing in a sound-proof room.”
In a document titled “Justification for Other than Full and Open Competition,” the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) said that it has an “urgent and compelling need” for pentobarbital. BOP wrote that it “has and [sic] immediate need for this product” and failure to procure it in a timely manner could result in delays that would be “detrimental to the operations of the agency.”
To justify its departure from the standard procurement process, BOP invoked a legal exception that only applies “when the agency’s need for the supplies or services is of such an unusual and compelling urgency that the Government would be seriously injured” if it wasn’t allowed to limit the number of contract bids.
According to ProPublica, the compounded drug subsequently failed a quality test.