As part of our “tough on crime” mentality, many elected officials and members of the public have supported the belief that people convicted of serious violent crimes are deserving of death, yet few of us look beyond the crime to see how these sentences are handed down.
Earlier this month, members of the Ohio General Assembly gathered to receive information about capital punishment in Ohio. The Joint Legislative Study Committee on Victims’ Rights listened to a representative from the Office of the Attorney General while he discussed the problems Ohio is having obtaining the needed drugs to execute people.
By Shakyra Diaz
If you are a member of the ACLU of Ohio, you are no doubt used to hearing from us about our work. Perhaps it is no surprise an organization known for protecting the First Amendment often exercises its own right to free speech.
Ohio’s death penalty has had a long and sordid history. Just look at the past decade:
» Four botched executions.
» Ten people granted clemency by the governor.
» Fifty-six recommendations from an Ohio Supreme Court taskforce of experts to revamp our broken system.
At this point, we do not know. But we do know that it’s a gamble the State of Ohio is willing to take, as officials recently released the revised execution schedule for the next two years.
In April, we urged Governor John Kasich to pause executions through the end of 2015 so that courts and experts could take the time needed to ensure that lethal injections do not amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
It shouldn’t be news to anyone who has read a paper or watched television that there are significant problems with lethal injection. This year, Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona have all had executions that left witnesses with little doubt that they were botched.
As long as the death penalty exists, we have a duty to make sure that it is carried out fairly. Death is the harshest punishment society can dole out, so we must ensure that the right person is convicted, that it is reserved for the worst offenses, and that the execution procedure is transparent and administered in a humane way.
Ohio made history today by becoming the first state to use the two-drug combination of midazolam and hydromorphone in the execution of Dennis McGuire. State officials decided to use this experimental combination of powerful sedatives and painkillers after supplies of approved execution drugs ran dry.