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Oregon Re-Sells Unused Execution Drugs

On November 22, 2011, death penalty opponents cheered Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s decision to halt the scheduled December 6, 2011 execution of Gary Haugen, and to impose a moratorium on all executions for the duration of his term. Kitzhaber called the death penalty “compromised and inequitable.” [See: PLN, June 2012, p.16].
However, opponents of capital punishment later cried foul after Oregon moved to re-sell its execution drugs so they may be used to end another prisoner’s life.

From 2007 until Haugen’s scrubbed execution date, Oregon spent an estimated $1.3 million trying to put him to death. The largest portion of that amount was the $853,083.82 cost of his legal defense and appeal, according to the Office of Public Defense Services.

Marion County Deputy District Attorney Don Abar claimed that excluding law enforcement expenses, prosecutors spent $150,000 to $200,000 to put Haugen on death row. The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) then racked up $128,050.49 defending his appeal and another $117,487.19 to advise prison officials, prepare for the execution and on related matters, according to DOJ spokeswoman Kate Medema.

Of the $57,573.64 that the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) spent on training, overtime and other expenses, the $17,953.98 cost of Haugen’s execution drugs proved to be the most controversial.

Expecting to recover most of the money spent on Haugen’s lethal injection drugs, cash-strapped Oregon officials returned them through a federally-licensed reverse wholesaler. Returning the drugs incurred a “restocking fee,” according to ODOC spokeswoman Jeanine Hohn.

She noted that the twenty 50-milliliter vials of pentobarbital sodium, fifty 10-milliliter vials of pancuronium bromide and fifty 20-milliliter vials of potassium chloride would have expired in three years. As such, the state moved quickly to return the drugs, which will likely be used to execute another prisoner in a different state.

Sources: Oregonian,, Los Angeles Times

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