Risk of Intolerable Pain and Suffering

For death penalty opponents, whose stance is no longer opposed by the majority of the US population, today is a very sad day: the Ohio Attorney General’s office has announced that it wishes executions to resume in January. What is more, the new lethal injection protocol is expected to include midazolam, a drug which the state firmly ruled out for executions, following its use in Dennis McGuire’s botched execution in January, 2014.

Although the US Supreme Court has approved midazolam for executions in another state (Oklahoma), the court’s decision was controversial. The majority judges chose to ignore the research produced by two expert witnesses that demonstrated the risk of intolerable pain and suffering posed by using midazolam as an anaesthetic (the court instead based its decision on the testimony of one doctor of pharmacy).

Attorneys representing death row inmates say they will file a challenge soon after the new execution policy is announced at the end of this week. The drug protocol is expected to include rocuronium bromide and potassium chloride, to be administered after midazolam.

Ohioans to Stop Executions (OTSE) criticized the state for proceeding with executions without first introducing measures to address the shocking unfairness of the death penalty in Ohio.

Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s execution date was stayed by the Ohio Supreme Court in May (see here, page 3); however, today’s announcement, that the state wishes to carry out the first three executions scheduled for 2017, will sadden him and everyone else on death row. Our thoughts are with Jeff.

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