Lawyers Say Arkansas To Use Untried Execution Drug

Apr 17, 2013

Arkansas plans to put prisoners to death with a drug that experts say has never been used in a U.S. execution. 

The state Department of Correction told The Associated Press on Tuesday that it plans to use phenobarbital, along with lorazepam, to kill condemned prisoners.

In a letter obtained by the AP, federal public defender Jenniffer Horan told Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe that phenobarbital takes effect more slowly than other drugs used to execute prisoners and that it carries a "substantial risk of a lingering and inhumane death." The Death Penalty Information Center says phenobarbital has never been used in a U.S. execution.

Arkansas' last execution was in 2005. It plans to resume executions after legislators rewrote an execution law that the state Supreme Court previously struck down.