Nebraska Death Row

Nebraska's lethal injection chamber at the State Penitentiary in Lincoln.

Associated Press file photo

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services began releasing more details Wednesday about the lethal injection drugs it has on hand for a potential execution of death row inmate Jose Sandoval. 

The department supplied limited information through a Freedom of Information Act request from the ACLU of Nebraska filed in late October. 

Corrections Director Scott Frakes served notice to Sandoval last week of the lethal injection drugs that would be administered to cause his death if an execution takes place. That combination of drugs has never been used in an execution.

No request to the Nebraska Supreme Court for an execution warrant has been made, but could be made in 60 days from last week's notice. 

The ACLU request detailed the inventory of drugs obtained by the department, a letter from Pfizer seeking the return of any diazepam or fentanyl the state might have in its possession, and letters sent in July and August to Frakes from the Association of State Correctional Administrators.

Those letters contained requests from Nevada and Mississippi departments of corrections asking other states to share specific lethal injection drugs and information. 

The ACLU also obtained copies of the Nebraska department's controlled-substance registration certificate from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration, issued Sept. 19 and good for about a year. 

The department has on hand twenty-five 2-milliliter units of fentanyl, which expire in July 2019; ten 10-milliliter units of diazepam, set to expire in July 2018; ten 20-milliliter units of cisatracurium, set to expire in October 2018; and twenty-five 30-milliliter units of potassium chloride, set to expire in August 2018. 

Federal DEA inventory sheets show two units of cisatracurium were sent to a drug-testing laboratory in late October, and a unit of potassium chloride was sent for testing on Oct. 31. 

A letter from Pfizer Vice President Robert Jones sent Oct. 4 informed the department that diazepam and fentanyl had been added to the company's list of restricted products from lethal injection for capital punishment. He requested the return of any Pfizer or Hospira products intended for that purpose. 

"Pfizer makes its products to enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve," Jones said in the letter. "Consistent with these values, Pfizer strongly objects to use of its products as lethal injections for capital punishment." 

It is unknown if the state purchased either of those drugs for that purpose from Pfizer. 

Also among the documents obtained by the ACLU were two letters from departments of corrections in Mississippi, sent Aug. 7, and Nevada, sent July 28, that show the difficulties states are having obtaining lethal injection drugs. 

Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Pelicia Hall was asking any states to supply pentobarbital, used in its three-drug protocol, or at least a contact for where it was purchased. Nevada wanted to obtain midazolam, hydromorphone sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide, potassium chloride or pentobarbital. 

Six of the requests for information to the Nebraska Corrections Department from the ACLU were not supplied Wednesday, the department saying it had no records responsive to the request. That included documents showing the use of public funds, or communications with the governor, his office, advisory committees or private political consultants, related to efforts to purchase the drugs.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or

On Twitter @LJSLegislature.


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