Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lethal Injection and the Buckeye State

Ohio Governor Orders Postponement of Two Executions:

In continuing fallout from a failed execution last month, Gov. Ted Strickland on Monday postponed two other executions to give corrections officials more time to revise lethal injection procedures.

The announcement came just hours after a federal appeals court indefinitely delayed one of those executions, which had been scheduled for Thursday, because of similar concerns about procedures.

The state is looking into backup procedures in case the standard execution techniques fail, as they did on Sept. 15, when technicians at the state prison in Lucasville tried for over two hours to maintain an intravenous connection in order to inject Romell Broom with lethal drugs for the abduction, rape and murder of a teenage girl in 1984. A hearing to consider whether Mr. Broom can be executed in conformity with constitutional requirements is scheduled for Nov. 30.
As I noted previously, Broom became the country's first lethal injection survivor last month when things went haywire in the execution chamber at Lucasville, and Broom ended up back in his cell alive, rather than on a slab in the morgue.

But as I also noted, don't think the pro-death penalty crowd in Ohio is going to roll over and take this one lightly.

Richard Cordray, the state attorney general, appealed to the United States Supreme Court on Monday to overturn the stay, arguing that it undercut Ohio’s authority to respond to problems with executions.

“The panel majority’s issuance of a stay to Reynolds, based merely on the possibility that ‘something could go wrong,’ in accessing his veins, effectively amounts to a judicially imposed moratorium on Ohio’s death penalty,” the appeal said.
Which I believe is sort of the point: if you don't have your protocols in place to ensure a quick and successful execution, you probably need to get out of the killing business, either temporarily or permanently.

We'll watch and report.

UPDATE: The October 15th WSJ has a follow-up on this story that's worth reading. Several states are now pausing after the Broom debacle to reconsider their lethal injection protocols. Whether you are for or against the death penalty, this can't be a bad thing. Also make sure you check out the interactive map of the death penalty across the U.S.

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