Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ohio: the botched execution of Joseph Clark

It took 22 minutes for the execution technicians to find a vein suitable for insertion of the catheter. The vein collapsed shortly after the start of the injection and Clark's arm began to swell. He raised his head off the gurney and said five times, "It don't work. It don't work." The curtains surrounding the gurney were then closed while the technicians worked for 30 minutes to find another vein. An autopsy found 19 puncture marks resulting from attempts to establish an IV line.

It took Ohio 90 minutes to execute Clark. This is believed to be the second-longest lethal injection on record.....

Clark's execution was notable for a number of reasons. He spent 21 years and 5 months on death row, making him one of the longest-serving inmates between sentencing and execution. He also gave the longest (10 minutes) final statement according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Clark's execution was also most notable and controversial because it took officials nearly 90 minutes to complete the process. The problems began when the staff were unable to find two suitable veins to attach the IV lines leading to the lethal chemicals. Clark had an extensive history as an intravenous drug user, making his veins weak and brittle. Under the state's execution protocol, two veins were required with the second serving as backup should the main line fail. After unsuccessfully trying to find a suitable second site for nearly 30 minutes, the staff opted to move ahead with only the single main line.

Shortly after the chemicals began flowing Clark shouted, "It don't work. It don't work.", and attempted to raise his head and upper body, according to witnesses.

Prison personnel worked for 25 minutes to find usable veins in both arms to attach intravenous tubes, but the execution team could not find one in his right arm. The decision was made to proceed with one IV shunt in the left.

At one point, a team member rolled up the leg of his trousers to try to find a suitable vein in his right leg,

Mr. Clark could be heard "moaning and groaning" by witnesses. A new IV was established, the curtains were re-opened, and the drug infusion began again. Mr. Clark raised his head several times and breathed deeply before becoming still.

A condemned inmate asked prison officials to find another way to execute him as they struggled to administer a lethal injection after an intravenous line failed, prison records show.

"Can you just give me something by mouth to end this?" convicted killer Joseph Clark asked during the 90-minute delay, according to accounts written by members of the execution team and obtained by The Associated Press.

It took another 40 minutes before the second vein was found and the execution continued. By 11:26 a.m. Clark was dead.

Even the victim's family complained that this was cruel and unusual punishment.

Source: Abolish!, Sept. 17, 2009

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