Ohio Vows End to Death Penalty Drug Mixture

The state of Ohio will no longer use a two-drug combination for the death penalty by lethal injection.

The previously untested combination of midazolam (a sedative) and hydromorphone (a powerful analgesic) was administered for the first and last time for the execution of Dennis McGuire last year. The cocktail caused McGuire to choke and gasp until he died 15 minutes later. Lethal injection should be physically painless and take up to five minutes when done properly. His family sued the state, claiming that his death amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. McGuire is not the only inmate to suffer from a botched lethal injection execution in the U.S. last year.

Ohio concocted the dangerous cocktail after European pharmaceutical manufacturers refused to supply an anesthetic for execution (capital punishment is barred in the EU). The state will now return to the original anesthetic used despite a shortage in supply, which will likely delay scheduled executions. Accordingly, the February 11th execution of death row inmate Ronald Phillips will be delayed (ABA Journal).
While Ohio’s step to ending death penalty drug experimentation is positive, there is still much to be improved on the issue in Ohio and the United States. Globally, the U.S. ranks fifth with most executions, in company with Iraq, China, Pakistan, and Vietnam.  A total of 18 states have abolished the death penalty, six of which were in recent years, showing a trend towards ending capital punishment. Still, in spite of this trend and the brutal deaths of McGuire and other death row inmates, Ohio has chosen to uphold the death penalty.



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