18 Aprile 2021 :
DoC Paid $1.5 Million for Execution Drugs.
While Facing a Budget Crisis.
At a time in which the Arizona Department of Corrections is facing criticism for crumbling infrastructure, substandard medical care, and understaffing, the department has spent $1.5 million to purchase the lethal-injection drug pentobarbital from an undisclosed source. The exorbitant price, experts say, is a function of the questionable use of the drug for non-medical purposes and the secretive nature of the transaction.
Records obtained by The Guardian show that, in October 2020, Arizona ordered 1,000 vials of the barbiturate pentobarbital. Each one-gram vial cost the state $1,500, for what the newspaper described as a “jaw-dropping” total of $1.5 million. A heavily redacted invoice shows that the state ordered 4–8 “unlabeled” jars to be shipped in “Unmarked jars and boxes” to an Arizona location “to be determined.” The state’s execution protocol calls for five grams of the drug, so the vials would be enough for 200 executions in a state that has 119 people on death row.
Assistant federal defender Dale Baich, whose office represents numerous Arizona death-row prisoners, issued a statement April 9 saying: “We are shocked to learn of the steps Arizona has taken to hide the facts related to its effort to carry out executions. Taxpayer money should not be spent in this manner without complete transparency — certainly not with unmarked boxes and ‘heavily redacted documents’ … and not with the shroud of secrecy in which Arizona has cloaked its execution processes.”
“For the State to spend $1.5 million on execution drugs is even more disturbing given recent reports about the budget crisis at the Department of Corrections,” Baich said. “Surely there is a better use for this money than carrying out executions.”
Prashant Yadav, a lecturer at Harvard medical school, said that states have paid as much as a 1,000% markup on execution drugs, compared to the usual market price of the drugs.