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Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 11:54am

Single Drug Method For Executions

Georgia announced that is switching to single-drug executions, effective immediately.

The Georgia Department of Corrections will start using one dose of the sedative pentobarbital to carry out death sentences. Georgia began using pentobarbital last year as part of its 3 drug combination when another barbituate became unavailable.

Opponents argue pentobarbital may not be a humane alternative. But Atlanta anesthesiologist Dr. Robert Baumann says the single dose is not only effective, it’s safer:

“Critics will say is this cruel or unusual, and that’s a reasonable thing to debate, but with significant doses you get such profound brain depression that the likelihood of awareness is extremely, extremely low, if not impossible.”

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, says making the switch just days before the execution of Warren Lee Hill is risky:

“There might be concerns about whether the guards are properly prepared, whether the dosage is sufficient, whether the inmate might have an adverse reaction…those things might take more time than just a couple days.”

Hill is scheduled to be put to death next week.

Arizona, Idaho and Ohio have carried out executions using the single drug method, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. This week, Texas, the nation’s most active death penalty state, also announced it’s moving to single-drug executions.

According to the state corrections department, officials have been researching the change for the past year.