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No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution

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Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. The state shouldn't get a second chance.
The pathos and problems of America's death penalty were vividly on display yesterday when Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. Immediately after its failure Gov. John Kasich set June 5, 2019, as a new execution date.
This plan for a second execution reveals a glaring inadequacy in the legal standards governing botched executions in the United States.
Campbell was tried and sentenced to die for murdering 18-year-old Charles Dials during a carjacking in 1997. After Campbell exhausted his legal appeals, he was denied clemency by the state parole board and the governor.
By the time the state got around to executing Campbell, he was far from the dangerous criminal of 20 years ago. As is the case with many of America's death-row inmates, the passage of time had inflicted its own punishments.
The inmate Ohio strapped onto the gurney was a 69-year-old man afflicted with serious ailm…

Lethal injection drug bill headed to Oklahoma governor's desk

Even though Oklahoma's once-busy death chamber has been quiet for more than 2 years, the state Legislature continues to prepare for the return of executions.

A bill allowing Oklahoma Department of Corrections staff to handle drugs, like those involved in lethal injections, sailed through the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Thursday. House Bill 1679 now heads to Gov. Mary Fallin's desk.

The measure exempts any corrections employee and anyone who participates in the execution process from the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act. Fallin signed a similar bill in 2016 allowing corrections staff to store lethal drugs at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. Before that measure became law, only physicians and hospitals could obtain the necessary licenses to house those drugs.

The bill is designed to allow staff to handle lethal injection drugs without first attaining the medical licensing that is currently required, said author Rep. Harold Wright, R-Weatherford. The state Corrections Department, with legal assistance from the attorney general's office, requested the bill.

"(The attorney general's office) said that this was very important to get this done, because (execution staff) could be considered to be operating illegally without the license," he said.

The bill easily passed through the state Senate in April.

"I believe if a physician colleague of mine wants to help carry out something that is legal in the state, to make it ... easier on the person that's being executed, I see nothing wrong with that," said Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, who is a licensed physician, during the Senate reading of the measure. "I'm not saying that I would want to participate, but I have no problem with a colleague of mine doing that."

Both bills were borne out of necessity, following the postponement of Richard Eugene Glossip's execution in 2015. Glossip's lethal injection was halted less than 2 hours before it was set to begin once staff discovered the state Corrections Department received the wrong lethal drug for the execution.

A grand jury later found the state Corrections Department lacked any verification process to ensure the proper drugs were obtained and administered. The department is rewriting its execution protocol, which must be approved by the state attorney general before it goes into effect and the state can resume administering the death penalty.

Oklahoma has not performed an execution in more than 2 years, the longest gap since the mid-1990s. The last inmate to be put to death by lethal injection in Oklahoma was Charles Frederick Warner in January 2015. An investigation by The Oklahoman later revealed Warner had been executed using a drug, potassium acetate, the state was not authorized to use.

No other state has ever used potassium acetate in a lethal injection, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Source: The Oklahoman, May 20, 2017

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