States consider using fentanyl for executions

Fentanyl not being used to execute death row inmates in Florida, DOC says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two states, Nebraska and Nevada, are considering using the opioid fentanyl to kill death row inmates. 

In Florida and around the country, fentanyl has killed thousands of people struggling with opioid addiction. 

According to the Florida Department of Corrections, fentanyl is not being used to execute death row inmates. When asked when asked whether Florida would consider using the drug, News4Jax was told it would follow the guidelines regarding lethal injection. 

Jacksonville attorney Randy Reep said other states are considering fentanyl because they are running out of options to execute death row inmates.

"Major manufacturers like Pfizer have contractual relationships with their retailers, if you will, that prevent them from using their drugs in executions," Reep said.

William Malone, a local activist against the death penalty, said no inmate should be executed. 

"No matter how they do it, it's ineffective both economically and ... in terms of a deterrent," Malone said. "Finally, it’s just not our right."

Based on the Eighth Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court says an execution is legal, if the inmate is killed humanely, which includes firing squads, electric chairs and lethal injection. Utah still can use a firing squad.

But the country is divided on the death penalty. According to Death Penalty Information Center, there are 31 states, including Florida, that have the death penalty, while there are 19 states that do not.

Lethal injection cocktails are generally made of three ingredients: a pain reliever, a drug to paralyze the body and a drug that stops the heart. 

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services confirmed its lethal injection cocktail could include fentanyl citrate.

Nevada says it's considering using fentanyl  because the former chief medical officer, Dr. John DiMuro, came up with the idea to use fentanyl for lethal injection, saying a lack of drugs prompted fentanyl as an ingredient. 

Nevada Department of Corrections Nevada Director James Dzurenda agreed, but the Nevada court can accept or reject the cocktail formula. 

According to the Nevada Department of Corrections, a state judge will decide next January on the cocktail formula that includes fentanyl. 

From 1972 to 1976, there was no death penalty because the U.S. Supreme Court said executions were not being performed humanely. Then in 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court said executions are OK if done humanely.

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