Tue., June 7, 2011 2:45pm (EDT)

Inmate To Be Executed Using New Drug
By Josephine Bennett
Updated: 3 years ago

JACKSON, Ga.  —  
Execution chamber at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson (photo Ga. Dept. of Corrections)
Execution chamber at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson (photo Ga. Dept. of Corrections)
Georgia is joining three other states in switching its execution drugs. A death row inmate could get the new mix later this month.

Georgia is replacing sodium thiopental with pentobarbital. Supplies of thiopental dried up after its U.S. manufacturer quit making it.

Federal officials seized the state’s remaining supply in March after it was imported from a questionable supplier. Nader Moniri teaches pharmaceutical sciences at Mercer University. He says pentobarbital is chemically similar.

“At lower doses it sedates you, makes you a little sleepy and as you get higher and higher it will cause a hypnosis or a deep sleep and then if you get even higher than that it will render you unconscious.”

Pentobarbital is the first of three drugs used in Georgia executions. Corrections officials have scheduled Roy Willar Blankenship to die for the 1978 murder of Sarah Mims Bowen in Savannah.