Governor Mike DeWine has put a hold on all executions in Ohio until a new drug protocol can be developed by the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
That is proving to be difficult according to DeWine who reiterated his stance on the use of the current drug mixture in light of a recent ruling that it violated the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment by stating, “With that decision I did not intend and would not have an execution carried out, with that protocol, in the State of Ohio. That position has not changed.”
According to DeWine the DRC’s difficulties are compounded by other factors including having to abide by the 8th Amendment, current state law that requires all executions be conducted by lethal injection, and in light of statements made by pharmaceutical companies that indicate they would refuse to provide certain drugs to states that use their products as part of their execution protocols.
“The use of their particular drug might result in that drug company totally shutting Ohio down in receiving these drugs or drug that is used for good purposes, that’s used on a daily basis to help Ohio citizens,” said DeWine.
DeWine hopes to break the log jam by getting the legislature involved.
He was not specific about what he will be asking them to do, but he was clear about the situation they have purview over.
“Ohio law only prescribes one way of execution, and that is through lethal injection. Ohio law does not prescribe other manners of execution,” said DeWine.
Ultimately, something will need to be done one way or another as there are nearly two dozen individuals waiting on death row right now.
“I think that this brings up a bigger issue about how we proceed in regard to executions, and this is an ongoing discussion,” said DeWine.
That statement drew commendations from adversaries of the death penalty, like Abraham Bonowitz; and yet the advocate against the death penalty says the wrong things are being focused on.
“Governor DeWine is being very thoughtful about this issue, but I think the question is wrong,” said Bonowitz. “They’re talking about how should we kill our prisoners and really we shouldn’t be killing anybody while the system is as broken as it is.”
Bonowitz gave several examples of how the system appears to be broken in his mind, one of which was that a murder in one Ohio county can be charged as a normal felony murder case while in another county the death penalty may be pursued.
These kinds of inequities are problematic, in Bonowitz’s eyes and he would like to see the all of the recommendations from the task force, put together by the Ohio Supreme Court, put into effect by the legislature.
So far a few of those recommendations have been addressed but not all.