Jeffrey Wogenstahl was handed a letter on Monday telling him his execution date has been postponed from November 16 2016 to September 13 2017.
At first the news seemed wonderful –the pressure on his lawyers is decreased. Today came the backlash, the realization that he will have yet another ten months on death row. For someone who claims innocence, and has already been on death row for 24 years, an extra ten months can feel like an eternity. Jeff will need time to adjust.
Eleven other Ohio death row inmates were also given delayed dates: as a result there will be no executions in 2016. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction hopes the delay will allow it to locate a source of sodium thiopental and pentobarbital for lethal injections. Other states have also struggled to find and use their chosen execution drugs. For instance, earlier this month Oklahoma and Arkansas halted executions because of legal challenges about drugs.
The focus on drugs detracts from the issue that Jeff would really like to raise: his innocence. Peripheral issues, associated with the execution drugs, or whether or not his trial court even had jurisdiction to try him, seem irrelevant. But the law must be followed. By a devious route he moves closer to having his voice heard. He should be of good cheer.