Indiana executions on hold due to shortage of lethal injection drugs


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — In 1997, Joseph Corcoran was convicted of killing four men in Fort Wayne, and sentenced to die. More than two decades later, he’s still alive.

Seven others are with Corcoran on death row at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, each convicted of murder along with other violent crimes. Their victims collectively include seven men (including a Beech Grove police officer), five women and five children.

Indiana’s death row inmates were all sentenced to die, but their lives hang in the balance – with no execution dates on the books.

Why? Indiana does not currently have the drugs needed to carry out the executions. This is a nationwide issue that is impacting the Hoosier state, and must not be confused with the federal executions.

Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told WANE 15 that drug companies do not want their medicines used for off-label purposes, especially to kill prisoners.

“And the marketers don’t want their medicines associated with death. Who will buy a drug to protect their health if they think of it as a killing drug?” asked Dunham.

Here is the list of the ingredients in the cocktail of death

“It is very difficult for them to obtain the drugs through legitimate means and that’s one of the reasons why we see a number of states adopting the secrecy statutes, so that the companies are prevented from learning upfront whether their drugs are being diverted from medical purpose to execution purposes,” Dunham said.

The state of Indiana is faced with a secondary problem – a lawsuit. Back in 2014, Katherine Toomey, an attorney in Washington D.C., requested the Indiana Department of Corrections to identify the suppliers of drugs for its executions. The request escalated to a six-year court battle, which ultimately push the Hoosier state to reveal its supplier.

Indiana adopted the Shield Law, which protects the state from revealing certain information, such as its supplier.

WANE 15 reached out to the Indiana Department of Correction for an interview but our request was denied. We also reached out to the state’s Solicitor General, Tom Fisher, who is representing the state in this case. He offered the following statement:

A Washington, D.C., attorney who represents groups opposed to capital punishment brought a court case against the Indiana Department of Correction seeking to discover the source of pharmaceuticals used in lethal-injection protocols. By statute, the Office of Attorney General has a duty to defend DOC in this lawsuit. The trial court ruled for Toomey, but the case is now before the Indiana Supreme Court, which could rule at any time.


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