"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Let the death penalty die in Ohio after forced hiatus in executions

Ohio hasn't executed anybody since January 2014, when Dennis McGuire took about 25 minutes to die from a previously untested two-drug concoction of midazolam and hydromorphone.

Legal challenges to Ohio's lethal-injection method of execution have contributed to the delay, but even though a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court has made those challenges tougher, procuring the necessary drugs remains an issue.

Last month, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction postponed executions until 2017 because of problems finding the drugs needed to carry them out.

The legislature should take this hiatus from capital punishment as an opportunity to conduct a full review of Ohio's death penalty law, and the mood of the people, to see if it's time to scrub it altogether.

Rather than waste time trying to find new sources of lethal-injection drugs -- or contemplating alternate forms of execution, such as electrocution, hanging, the gas chamber or even the firing squad, all of which some states have embraced as optional measures -- Ohio needs to search its collective soul for the right thing to do.

Meanwhile, the case against the death penalty continues to mount.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer, who as a young legislator helped write the state's death penalty law, now openly opposes it, having called it "a death lottery" for its unfairness.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O'Neill, the only Democrat on the court, has dissented rather than vote to schedule execution dates for 5 condemned prisoners.

"While I recognize that capital punishment is the law of the land, I cannot participate in what I consider to be a violation of the Constitution I have sworn to uphold," he said in 2013.

The state legislature thought it solved the supply problem of death-penalty drugs last year by granting anonymity to compounding pharmacies that make them. The continuing lack of death-penalty drugs in Ohio shows that ploy didn't work.

The time has come for Ohioans and their elected representatives to have a serious discussion about ending the death penalty. But there is only 1 logical conclusion: Abolish capital punishment in Ohio.

Source: Cleveland.com, Editorial, November 3, 2015

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