Ohio’s execution quandary

The Columbus Dispatch last Friday explored some rather "'unique circumstances' it says Ohio prison officials are facing for the first time in the 15 years since the state reinstated the death penalty, dealing simultaneously with legal issues from a past execution, one scheduled next month and one being held up over organ transplants – with the outcome of each case potentially being critical to the future of capital punishment in the state."

The Dispatch reviewed that while “reports by Warden Donald R. Morgan at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, who observed the execution of Dennis McGuire on Jan. 16, and Joseph Andrews, a former prisons official now with the Department of Public Safety, concluded that the ‘process went very well’ and found ‘no reasons for revision of policy for future executions,’ those reports are not the final word on the execution, and the final report is still pending.

“…the organ-transplant controversy, also a first in the U.S., involves inmate Ronald Phillips, 40, whose scheduled execution last Nov. 4 was postponed by Gov. John Kasich to allow time for Phillips to donate non-vital organs to his ailing mother. Kasich postponed his lethal injection until July 2 to allow time for the complicated surgery.

“The third contested case involves Gregory Lott, 51, scheduled to be executed on March 16. A hearing opposing use of the same drugs for Lott that were used to kill McGuire will be held in U.S. District Court in Columbus on Feb. 19.  (Order)

Additionally, the family of Dennis McGuire announced at a news conference last Jan. 17, 2014, in Dayton, Ohio, they had filed their planned lawsuit against the state over the unusually slow execution. That lawsuit also alleges the manufacturer of the drug used in McGuire’s execution, Lake Forest, Illinois-based Hospira Inc., produced the medications illegally allowed them to be used for an execution and should be prohibited from making them available for capital punishment, according to the Associated Press

  --- Ohio House Bill 385, introduced by Nickie Antonio & Dan Ramos on 12/10/2013, if passed would abolish the death penalty altogether.

And to round things out, Ohio Representative Robert Hagan Tuesday introduced a bill which would require the Governor and  Director of Rehabilitation and Correction to be present at all executions, while, in a meeting with editors and reporters from Northeast Ohio Media Group and Plain Dealer yesterday, Gov. John Kasich touched on  a wide range of topics including the death penalty, wherein, despite the controversy over the state’s last execution, he remained steadfast about Ohio keeping the death penalty, but also said executions must be done with thought and care. “When there’s been any doubt on this, we don’t execute,” he said. “I’m not in a hurry to do this, but it’s part of my job.”