Texas To Offer Gluten-Free Lethal Injections
Austin, TX (AP) – The Lone Star State was the first US state to perform an execution by lethal injection, and aims to retain its leadership in the administration of the death penalty by offering health-conscious alternatives for Death Row convicts. The certified gluten-free alternative will be made available for all executions taking place after July 2014.
Governor Rick Perry signed the new legislation into law on Wednesday, touting it as an important demonstration of his administration’s dedication to balancing an uncompromising attitude toward crime with a compassion for the rights and needs of those accused, a continuation of his predecessor George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” policy.
Currently, 32 states practice capital punishment, and each of them uses lethal injection, though some also offer alternative methods such as hanging or firing squad. Texas has the largest number of convicts on Death Row among all states, and the state accounts for 40% of all executions in the United States. It was only natural, says Perry, that Texas should leverage its status as the capital punishment leader to institute a more enlightened, healthful method of lethal injection, one that would not put such a strain on the digestive system.
“More and more people are showing sensitivity or allergies to gluten, unfortunately,” acknowledged Perry, “and our current methods do not adequately account for those awaiting execution who nevertheless still benefit from the right to have the state take their dietary needs into account.” The new bill, he promised, will make a gluten-free chemical or combination of chemicals available to executioners upon the request of the inmate. He pointed out that Texas is the first, and for now the only, state that shows concern for convicts’ dietary sensibilities as it kills them, and he hopes other states follow Texas’s lead in providing healtheir options for those executed.
Lethal injection methods vary among the states, but the most common method involves a three-drug combination that anesthetizes, paralyzes, and stops the heartbeat of the convict. Various degrees of controversy surround some of the drugs, as do difficulties in securing an adequate supply of the necessary chemicals. The new law does not specify what drugs will be procured or synthesized for the gluten-free executions, nor how the state will ensure that the chemicals will be certified as gluten-free. Given some recent shortages of some of the drugs commonly used for lethal injections, it remains unclear how Texas will fare in having a steady supply on hand, especially if the state is to maintain its position as the most prolific performer of capital punishment.
Governor Perry, however, remains confident that the law will be carried out with little trouble. “We had some of the same difficulties when we expanded the available menu for a prisoner’s last meal back in 1985,” he recalled. “People doubted we’d be able to secure both beef AND turkey. Well, we had no problem then.”
Currently, a prisoner’s last meal in Texas automatically comes with wheat rolls, and cake for dessert.