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North Carolina switches to single-drug protocol for executions

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RALEIGH, N.C., Nov. 6 (UPI) -- The state of North Carolina, which has not held an execution since 2006, has adopted a single-drug protocol, officials say.

Secretary of Public Safety Frank Perry signed the protocol Oct. 24, The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported. The shift became public Tuesday when a hearing on long-running litigation over the death penalty was removed from the court calendar.

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Lawyers for both sides asked for a delay to allow them to consider the impact of the protocol change.

North Carolina has executed 43 people since 1976 and currently has 161 inmates on death row. The state has effectively had a moratorium on executions because of the legal attack on the three-drug protocol that had been used for executions.

The Legislature also approved the Racial Justice Act in 2009, which required death sentences to be commuted to life with no parole if convicts could prove they had been the victims of racial bias in the legal process. The law was repealed this year.

The new protocol appears to be aimed at resuming executions quickly. The drug pentobarbital, which has already been used in Texas, would be the only one administered.

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Lundbeck, the Danish company that owns pentobarbital, now refuses to sell it as an execution drug.

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