Is Ohio's Lethal Injection Procedure Inhumane?
Ohio's death penalty procedure is in question as to whether its executions are carried out in a "professional, humane, sensitive and dignified manner." Two men facing murder charges say the state's lethal injection procedure doesn't give the quick and painless deaths required by state law, reported the Star Tribune.
Anesthesiologist Dr. Mark Heath said Monday that Ohio's lethal injection procedure isn't appropriate for dogs or cats, let alone humans, reported Yahoo News. Heath, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Columbia University, said it's possible to perform lethal injection of prisoners in a humane manner, but that Ohio's method falls below the standard for euthanizing household pets.
Ohio performs the three-drug execution procedure which three drugs are administered in succession to sedate, paralyze and kill prisoners, reported the Star Tribune. However, if the executioner administers too little anesthetic or makes mistakes injecting it, the inmate could suffer excruciating pain from the other two drugs.
Difficulties with two executions in recent years, in which the execution team struggled to find suitable veins in inmates' arms, brought complaints that the method is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual. Ohio officials stand by the procedure.
Heath, who has testified about lethal injection in 11 states, also said he has not found an acceptable method for lethal injection of humans in any state, reported Yahoo News.
Heath said that the procedure was problematic because it separates the inmate from the person administering the drugs in two separate rooms. The rooms are separated by a one-way mirror.
"Doing it that way substantially increases the risk of a major problem occurring," said Heath, adding later, "I would never induce general anesthesia from a different room through long tubing."
Anesthesiologists always administer drugs while standing next to the patient so they can detect if problems occur, such as a leak or a ruptured vein, Heath said. He also warned drugs could go into the tissue instead of the vein.
Heath testified on behalf of defendants Ronald McCloud and Ruben Rivera, who are accused of separate murders and could receive death sentences if convicted.
Jeffrey Gamso, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who represents McCloud and Rivera, said Heath would argue that the state's method "builds in an enormously and unnecessarily high likelihood of torturing people to death," reported the Star Tribune.
Ohio has executed 26 inmates since it resumed putting prisoners to death in 1999.