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Articles by Raymond Bonner

A Prolonged Stay: The Reasons Behind the Slow Pace of Executions

by Raymond Bonner, ProPublica

States that impose the death penalty have been facing a crisis in recent years: They are short on the drugs used in executions.

In California, which has the country's largest death row population, the chief justice of the state supreme court has said there are unlikely to be any executions for three years, in part due to the shortage of appropriate lethal drugs. As a result, state prosecutors are calling for a return of the gas chamber.

Ohio, which is second only to Texas in the number of executions carried out since 2010, said it will run out of the drug it uses in executions, pentobarbital, on September 30. The state has two men scheduled for execution in November, and eight more set to be killed after that. Every state's supply of pentobarbital, which has been the principal execution drug, expires at the end of November 2013.

The shortage has forced death penalty states to scramble on two fronts: They are hunting for new suppliers or different drugs to use, and enacting changes to public records laws to keep the names of suppliers and manufacturers of those alternative drugs secret.

The lack of lethal drugs, and ...