Missouri: We May Have to Bring Back Gas Chambers

Attorney general warns state supreme court
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 5, 2013 3:26 PM CDT
Missouri: We May Have to Bring Back Gas Chambers
In this Feb. 19, 2009 file photo, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster talks to members of the Missouri Press Association in Jefferson City, Mo.   (AP Photo/Kelley McCall, File)

If the Missouri supreme court doesn't start letting the state schedule lethal injection executions again—and soon—the state may be forced to revert to the gas chamber, Attorney General Chris Koster warned this week. The trouble began when drug companies started refusing to sell their products to corrections departments, leading to a shortage of execution drugs, the Guardian reports. Missouri became the first state to switch to a one-drug lethal injection protocol, and planned to use high doses of propofol. But death row inmates challenged the plan, and the state supreme court put executions on hold until the matter is settled.

But the state's supplies of propofol are expiring, with the last batch set to become useless in 2015. "As each supply expires, the department's ability to carry out lawfully imposed capital sentences diminishes," Koster said in a motion filed with the court. "Unless the court changes its current course, the legislature will soon be compelled to fund statutorily-authorized alternative methods of execution to carry out lawful judgments," AKA the gas chamber. Missouri hasn't used the gas chamber since 1965, and one attorney helping with the propofol challenge says he doubts the court would allow it to be brought back: "Its use has fallen into disrepute." Oh, and then there's the fact that the old gas chamber is now a tourist attraction, the AP notes. (More death penalty stories.)

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