"Execution spurs calls to suspend death penalty," is by Alan Johnson in today's Columbus Dispatch.
The troubled execution of convicted killer Dennis McGuire last week has prompted the American Civil Liberties Union and some state legislators to seek a moratorium on Ohio’s use of the death penalty.
Dr. David Waisel, an anesthesiologist and professor at Harvard Medical School, essentially predicted what would happen to McGuire in testimony offered by McGuire’s defense team at a hearing before the execution. He said McGuire would be “awake and actively conscious for up to five minutes” and was at “substantial, objectively intolerable risk for experiencing the agony and horrifying sensation of being unable to breathe for a relevant time, as he slowly suffocates to death.”
Officials of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and Gov. John Kasich have not commented.
The ACLU of Ohio wrote Kasich, urging him to “declare an immediate halt to executions in Ohio.”
“This is not about Dennis McGuire, his terrible crimes, or the crimes of others who await execution on Death Row,” the letter from ACLU Executive Director Christine Link and President Jack Guttenberg said. “It is about our duty as a society that sits in judgment of those who are convicted of crimes to treat them humanely and ensure their punishment does not violate the Constitution.”
"McGuire execution sparks anti-death penalty bills in Ohio," is the CBS News post.
Democrats state legislators are pushing for changes regarding the death penalty in Ohio after inmate Dennis McGuire gasped and convulsed violently during his execution last week which involved the use of a two-drug method for the first time in the United States.
State Sen. Edna Brown has called for an immediate suspension of the death penalty in the state and said she plans to introduce legislation to abolish it altogether, reports Cleveland.com.
State Rep. Bob Hagan also recently announced his plan to introduce a bill that would require the governor and the state’s prisons chief to be present during all future executions in Ohio, according to the news site.
Both bills came on the heels of McGuire’s Jan. 16 execution. The 53-year-old McGuire, who was sentenced to death for raping and fatally stabbing a 22-year-old pregnant woman to death in 1989, took 26 minutes to die – making it the longest execution of the 53 carried out in Ohio since capital punishment resumed there 15 years ago, according to an Associated Press analysis.
"Shortage of lethal drugs, 'ugly' Ohio execution fuels battle over death penalty," is by Joseph Weber with material from Associated Press at Fox News.
A shortage of the lethal drugs used to administer the death penalty has re-ignited a battle over capital punishment which has pushed a few states to weigh execution alternatives -- even firing squads.
The battle came to a head last week when Ohio used a new two-drug cocktail to execute an inmate, who had been convicted of raping and murdering a pregnant woman. The execution, though, took roughly 26 minutes and raised concerns about the ability of states to perform executions in a constitutional manner.
While some death penalty foes continue to ramp up their opposition, other states are weighing alternative methods -- even firing squads -- to carry out lethal punishment.
Right now, 32 states allow for lethal injections or other means of capital punishment. But when European pharmaceutical companies last year stopped selling the three-drug mix used for injections on ethical grounds, states began weighing their options.
Aljazeera America posts, "Local ACLU chapter in Ohio calls on governor to halt executions while Montana group is suing over protocol."
Prison authorities in two states are facing increased pressure to halt executions immediately after a controversial execution last week using a previously untested drug mix left a condemned man, Dennis McGuire, gasping and snorting for close to half an hour.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote to Ohio's governor, John Kasich, Sunday urging him to use his executive authority ahead of five scheduled executions in 2014 after McGuire's execution on Thursday.
It took McGuire 26 minutes to die after the chemicals — intravenous doses of the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone — began flowing into his body. McGuire was sentenced to die for raping and stabbing a pregnant newlywed to death in 1989, and his death was the longest execution of the 53 carried out in Ohio since capital punishment resumed 15 years ago.
Meanwhile, another group, the ACLU of Montana, is now suing Montana overs its execution method, which last year changed from a combination of three drugs to two.
Though the drugs used in the Ohio execution are different from the ones called for in Montana's execution protocol, critics say the Ohio case illustrates the dangers of using untested drug combinations.
Earlier news coverage from the MLK holiday weekend includes:
"After a Prolonged Execution in Ohio, Questions Over ‘Cruel and Unusual’," by Erica Goode in the New York Times.
As the lethal drugs flowed into his veins in the Ohio death chamber, Dennis B. McGuire at first “went unconscious” and his body was still, his daughter, Amber McGuire, said Friday.
But a few minutes later, she said, she was horrified to see her father struggling, his stomach heaving, a fist clenching.
“He started making all these horrible, horrible noises, and at that point, that’s when I covered my eyes and my ears,” said Ms. McGuire, who watched the execution on Thursday at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, near Lucasville. “He was suffering.”
Mr. McGuire’s execution, conducted with a new and untested combination of drugs, took about 25 minutes from the time the drugs were started to the time death was declared. The process, several witnesses said, was accompanied by movement and gasping, snorting and choking sounds.
"Family, experts: Ohio execution snafu points to flaws in lethal injection," by Tom Watkins at CNN.
No one may ever know for sure whether Ohio's execution of Dennis McGuire -- in a procedure during which he reportedly gasped, snorted and struggled -- was inhumane, but his family and medical and legal experts said Friday the ordeal points out fundamental flaws in the use of lethal injection.
"Prolonged execution renews debate over death by lethal injection," is Los Angeles Times coverage by Molly Hennessy-Fiske.
A few minutes before McGuire was put to death, Ohio's prison director, Gary Mohr, said he believed the state's planning would produce "a humane, dignified execution" consistent with the law. In pressing for the execution, state Assistant Atty. Gen. Thomas Madden had argued that condemned prisoners were "not entitled to a pain-free execution."
U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost sided with the state, but at the request of McGuire's lawyers, ordered officials to photograph and preserve drug vials, packaging and syringes.
Ohio and other states have been forced in recent years to use a new mix of drugs and reconsider lethal injection practices after manufacturers, under pressure from death penalty opponents, limited the distribution of drugs previously used in executions, prompting shortages.
"Unclear Future For Executions After Inmate's Slow Death," is an AP report filed by Andrew Welsh-Huggins and Kantele Franko. It's via Huffington Post.
Whether McGuire felt any pain was unclear. His death — unconsciousness, followed by apparent obstructed breathing — followed the prediction of one state expert.
The question may center on states' tolerance for a constitutional method that is difficult to observe, said Doug Berman, an Ohio State University law professor and death penalty expert.
"How much will Ohio care, how much will the rest of the country care, that it seems that what we now have discovered is Ohio is using a method that gets the job done, but looks ugly," Berman said. "We don't know if it actually was ugly. We just know that it looked ugly."
States are in a bind for two main reasons: European companies have cut off supplies of certain execution drugs because of death-penalty opposition overseas. And states can't simply switch to other chemicals without triggering legal challenges from defense attorneys.
"There's only so many times you can say we're going to try a new method, or try something different, where at this point it's just going to invite a lot of skepticism," said Fordham University law professor and lethal injection expert Deborah Denno.
"Records show execution was longest for Ohio," is another AP report, also by Welsh-Huggins and Franko, via the Cherokee Tribune.
A convicted killer took 26 minutes to die during an execution in which he gasped repeatedly — the longest execution in Ohio since the state resumed capital punishment 15 years ago, records show.
Earlier coverage of the Ohio execution of Dennis McGuire begins with the preceding post. Analysis and commentary in the next post, followed by more lethal injection news coverage from other jurisdictions.