As the mystery continues over where states are getting stocks of the scarce anesthetic, sodium thiopental (commonly used in lethal injections), California filed papers today to tell a federal court that the state has ordered more–521 grams. Three grams are theoretically needed for a single execution (more if the first two injections are not sufficient to put the inmate to sleep). The state already has 12 grams and this latest order will bring the supplies to 533 grams, technically enough to execute 177 people.
The drug is the first of three used in the state’s lethal injection process, a protocol that’s currently under scrutiny in two federal lawsuits and one case at the state level. Federal District Judge Jeremy Fogel is the one who ordered that California tell the court each time they order more supplies of the drug. Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate has indicated that he’ll soon disclose the origin of California’s supply of sodium thiopental and the state’s reasons for secrecy. Two court hearings are coming up related to the topic: there’s a hearing November 30 in the ACLU’s public records lawsuit that would compel the state to say where it got the drugs. There’s also a hearing December 2 in the federal courthouse in San Jose regarding constitutional lawsuits that say California’s lethal injection process violates the Eight and First Amendments.