Georgia Accused of Illegal Actions in Securing Execution Drugs

Attorneys representing Andrew DeYoung, a death row inmate in Georgia, have accused the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) of violating federal law by unlawfully importing an execution drug from a small pharmaceutical distributor in London, England—Dream Pharma Ltd. (pictured). The allegations are outlined in a letter delivered to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Feb. 24 and describe an attempt by the corrections agency to circumvent the law to secure sodium thiopental from foreign sources in the face of a national shortage of the drug. Records show that the GDC is not registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration as an importer and did not file a declaration when it imported drugs from the distributor in July 2010. John Bentivoglio, a partner with Skadden, Arps in Washington, D.C., and former U.S. Associate Deputy Attorney General, wrote to Holder, calling for an investigation: “The GDC’s actions call into question the legality and integrity of the process the department uses to administer lethal injections… . Given these potential violations of federal law and the implications they raise with respect to pending executions in Georgia, I respectfully urge you to direct appropriate agencies within your department to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of these issues.”

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In a press release the same day, Bentivoglio stated, “The United States has strict drug import rules for a reason: to ensure drugs used for legitimate purposes are not adulterated, counterfeit, or diverted into the illicit market. The GDC appears to have resorted to unlawful means to obtain thiopental, raising serious questions about the legality and integrity of the lethal injection procedure in Georgia.”

(“Georgia Department of Corrections Violates Federal Law in Desperate Effort to Get Drugs for Executions,” Press Release on behalf of John Bentivoglio, February 24, 2011). Read the letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. See Lethal Injection.