Supreme Court to Examine Death Penalty Drug Used in Florida

One of the drugs used in Florida’s three-drug lethal injection cocktail may be on the chopping block after the Supreme Court agreed to review the usage of midazolam in executions in Oklahoma.

A trio of inmates in Oklahoma sued over the state using midazolam as part of that state’s three-drug process in lethal injections. The inmates’ case comes after an Oklahoma prisoner’s execution that used midazolam was botched in April 2014.

The inmates argued that the usage of midazolam can’t achieve the level of unconsciousness required for surgery and therefore the usage of it would violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Specifically, the lawyers for the trio argued that midazolam isn’t approved by the FDA as a general anesthetic and is being used by prisons on an experimental basis, according to USAToday.

Florida has used midazolam in executions for the last few years after a previous drug, which was used by many states, was taken off the market by its European maker. The state uses a three-drug process for lethal injections. The drugs first produce unconsciousness then paralysis and finally cardiac arrest.

Midazolam was used in the execution of Juan Carlos Chavez for his killing of nine-year-old Jimmy Ryce. Chavez also argued to the court that usage of the drug was cruel and unusual punishment, but the high court allowed his execution to go forward. It’s been used in several other executions as well.

While Oklahoma and Ohio have had issues when using midazolam in executions, the Sunshine State hasn’t had serious issues with its usage.

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