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Drug issue stalls executions in California

SACRAMENTO, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- California has enough lethal injection drugs for four executions, but may not be able to use it, officials say.

A corrections spokeswoman would not tell the Los Angeles Times where the state got the 12 grams of sodium thiopental, and that is the issue.

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The state is suspected of having acquired the drug abroad because all stocks made by its only U.S. maker have expired, or soon will expire, and it can't make more, reportedly for a lack of raw materials.

U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel has halted executions in California since 2006, concerned that sodium thiopental may not completely anesthetize some inmates before they are injected with other drugs that paralyze them and stop their hearts. If the inmate is not unconscious, the extreme pain suffered would violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, Fogel has said.

A 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling requires states to conduct executions in a "transparent" manner, which California may be failing to do by declining to reveal the source of its sodium thiopental.

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