Saturday, November 14, 2009

Don't Mess With Ohio

After becoming the first state in the union to produce lethal injection's first survivor, Ohio announced yesterday it is changing its protocols and going with the Veterinarian-tested single barbiturate killer.

Breaking ranks with the 35 other states that use lethal injections to execute prisoners, Ohio on Friday became the first state to say it would switch to a single drug, rather than a three-drug cocktail, in its death penalty procedure.

Critics have long argued that using a single drug, the preferred method in animal euthanasia, is more humane than the three-drug cocktail, which involves a short-acting barbiturate to render the inmate unconscious, followed by a paralytic and then a chemical to stop the heart.

But states have resisted changing the three-drug procedure, which has been in use since the late 1970s. And in a 2008 ruling that upheld Kentucky’s method of putting condemned prisoners to death, the Supreme Court rejected the claim that the three-drug cocktail posed an unconstitutional risk of a condemned inmate’s suffering acute yet undetectable pain.

The new procedure announced Friday involves administering a massive dose of an anesthetic. If that fails, prison officials will then inject two chemicals — midazolam and hydromorphone — directly into the inmate’s muscles.

“I have full confidence that this protocol will allow my staff the ability to fulfill our legally mandated obligation in carrying out the execution process,” said Terry J. Collins, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Note the "legally mandated" qualifier. I would be sure to include that as well, particularly since we have no idea whether the single barbiturate method will work on humans.

Maybe they'll bring back Romell Broom as the guinea pig. Pet tested, doctor approved.

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