In a statement made yesterday, all six of the executions scheduled in Ohio for 2015 are being halted. Because the state is looking to obtain new drugs used for lethal injections, the executions will be pushed back until next year.
Just three weeks ago, authorities in Ohio said the drugs used in executions would be changed. Instead of using the drug linked to several botched executions across the country, Ohio wants something that is more reliable and efficient. That same drug is currently at the center of attention pertaining to a case being heard before the Supreme Court.
The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction stated that the drugs hydromorphone and midazolam used as lethal injection for other executions would no longer be an option in Ohio. As a result, one execution slated for next month, as well as five others to be carried out in 2017 and one for January of 2017, is being pushed back.
The state confirmed that it is trying to obtain pentobarbital and thiopental sodium, the combination of drugs that will be used from now on. The delay will provide the state of Ohio the necessary time needed to get hold of the new drugs used for execution. In addition, this time will be used to create and prepare new protocols.
Ohio is not the only state trying to get hold of the new discarded drugs. Because of an ongoing shortage, some states are using drugs that have not yet been properly tested. The move of authorities in Ohio is also promoted based on an execution using a different combination of drugs that went awry. In that execution, it took nearly 43 minutes for the prisoner to die. As a result, family members have filed a lawsuit against the state.
Interestingly, midazolam has now been connected to two high-profile executions, both consisting of complications. In addition to the one in Ohio, there was another case in Arizona where the prisoner gasped and snorted for close to two hours before finally dying.
Oklahoma, which currently uses midazolam and another drug that has been used for lethal execution in Florida for the past two years, is having its protocol looked at by the Supreme Court. Based on an execution in that state last year that went bad, the protocol had to be modified. As part of this, midazolam would still be used but the dosage would increase.
Under this new protocol, one prisoner has been executed in Oklahoma. Charles Warner who was convicted of raping and murdering an 11-month old baby received the combination without problem. In order for there to be a stay of execution, five liberal justices would have to agree but in Warner’s case, only four judges thought midazolam presented risk so he was put to death.
Ohio is one of several states with a high rate of executions. At this point, the next time a prisoner will die is on January 21, 2016, which involves Ronald R. Phillips who raped and killed the three-year-old daughter of his then girlfriend. As for dates of the remaining six executions, no specific date has been set.