Ohio to resume use of lethal injection executions

Nicholas Hunter

Executions in the state of Ohio are set to resume in January 2017, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

The execution of convicted rapist Ronald Phillips is scheduled for January 12 of next year. This marks the first execution in the state of Ohio since January 2014, when the execution of Dennis McGuire did not go as planned; witnesses, including his two adult children and wife, witnessed him gasping for air and apparently choking before dying.

The execution was performed via lethal injection, a process that has become more difficult to properly implement as supplies of effective drugs are running out. The combination used in 2014, a sedative called midazolam and the pain killer hydromorphone, was a combination never before used in a U.S. execution. McGuire’s attorney called the use of these drugs a “failed, agonizing experiment by the state of Ohio.”

The three-year suspension implemented after this incident was a move to allow the state to renew the supply of drugs. These efforts were moved forward by Gov. Kasich’s 2014 law that protects the identity of pharmaceutical companies that supply the state lethal injection drugs for a twenty-year period, to encourage companies to produce the drugs needed for effective executions.

The drug combination scheduled for use, this time consisting of midazolam (a sedative), rocuronium bromide (a muscle relaxant), and potassium chloride (to stop the heart), has already been approved by the U.S. Supreme Court as a viable method of execution.

Other states, such as Utah, have approved the use of firing squads for executions as a backup method, if injections show to be ineffectual. Kasich rejected a move by Ohio lawmakers in 2015 to implement the same policy.

According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections’ website, there are currently twenty-six scheduled executions, stretching out to October of 2019.