Professor Deborah Denno was quoted in an article regarding the risk of adding fentanyl into the lethal injection mix for executions.
For Nevada’s first execution in more than a decade, state officials are turning to a never-before-tried combination of drugs, including a powerful painkiller that is fueling much of the opioid epidemic and a paralyzing drug that could mask any signs of trouble.
If the state’s highest court approves the plan and it works without complications, the system could offer an alternative execution method to other states seeking hard-to-obtain drugs for lethal injections. But the drugs also carry serious risks, and their use in an execution could invite new shortages of medication used for surgery and pain relief.
“It’s an experiment,” said Deborah Denno, a law professor and lethal injection expert at Fordham University in New York. “It sounds like a high-risk venture. Even trained people can’t claim to know what’s going to happen.”
The 31 states in the U.S. with the death penalty have wrestled with finding lethal injection drugs since pharmaceutical manufacturers stopped making some products available. Some executions using substitute drugs resulted in slow, apparently agonizing deaths.