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Realities of Death Penalty Revealed in Ohio

ohio governor mike dewine

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine speaks during a public inauguration ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse, Mon. Jan. 14, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. (John Minchillo/Pool/AP)

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Wednesday, 27 February 2019 12:42 PM Current | Bio | Archive

To date, Ohio has executed 56 people since reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. During that same time, nine people have been exonerated from the state’s death row, 20 have received clemency, and three have been killed by the state in a botched execution.

Ohio, like many other states, has struggled with its execution protocol for several years now. The bottom line is that drug manufacturers do not want their products used in this manner.

Many view the death penalty as a human rights violation, and others simply recognize it’s bad for business. Either way, the supply chain for execution drugs has virtually dried up.

One drug in particular has been at the center of this controversy for some time now, midazolam is a sedative typically used in conjuncture with two other drugs to carry out lethal injections. But the drug has also been identified as the culprit in a number of botched executions across the country, and its manufacturers have sought to prevent its use in these proceedings.

The recent findings of a pathologist at Emory University showed a pattern of pulmonary edema (accumulation of fluid in the lungs) in the autopsies of those executed with the use of this drug. This medical state produces the effect of drowning in its victims; these individuals would have experienced the sensation of being waterboarded during their executions.

There’s one big problem with that: the Eighth Amendment. This amendment bans the use of cruel and unusual punishment., and while arguments have raged for decades over what precisely meets this definition, it is universally agreed upon that waterboarding would most certainly cross a line.

Recently, a federal judge ruled that Ohio’s execution protocol could cause "severe pain and needless suffering," and it was at this point that the state’s newly elected Republican governor, Mike Dewine, took action.

In February, Dewine halted all Ohio executions in the state until the time that a new protocol could be found that passes the standard of the courts. Dewine has ordered the prison system to look at alternative lethal injection drugs and stated, "Ohio is not going to execute someone under my watch when a federal judge has found it to be cruel and unusual punishment."

Though newly elected as governor, Dewine is no stranger to Republican politics or the death penalty. His resume includes an impressive litany of public service beginning with a role as Greene County’s prosecutor, followed by positions as a state senator, lieutenant governor, U.S. senator, and attorney general. Thirty-eight years ago, while serving as a state senator, he also co-sponsored the state’s current death penalty law.

Whether or not the Dewine has changed his position on the death penalty overall remains unclear. He has not been overly expressive when questioned on his current views. Instead, he has pointed to the myriad of operational issues the state is facing with the death penalty and has stood firm in his defense of the Constitution.

Principled defense of the Constitution is what strong leadership looks like on the right. Far too many in office become consumed with towing the party line and approach matters of policy from a viewpoint of what will make them popular instead of what will make them right.

Dewine deserves applause for his consistency and for his fortitude in this matter.

No matter what one’s opinion of the death penalty is in theory, the realities of the death penalty in practice are enough to make many people change their stance on the topic. The system wrongfully convicts people all the time and shows no indication of improvement.

It also zaps resources that could be better directed towards effective tools that actually solve and deter crime. In fact, every dollar spent fighting the drug manufacturers in court or searching for new execution protocols is a dollar that could be used to test a rape kit or pursue a cold case.

A substantial number of Republicans have joined in the chorus of condemnation for the death penalty in recent years. Some are calling for outright repeal, some for moratoriums, and some (like Dewine) for methods that do not violate the Constitution.

All of these voices, though, point to a system that is broken and not functioning within the realms of constitutional provisions. There is no magic fix that will eradicate its wrongs.

It’s high past time we shut down the death penalty.

Hannah Cox is the National Manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. Hannah was previously Director of Outreach for the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a free-market think tank. Prior to that, she was Director of Development for the Tennessee Firearms Association and a policy advocate for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.

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HannahCox
A substantial number of Republicans have joined in the chorus of condemnation for the death penalty in recent years. Some are calling for outright repeal, some for moratoriums, and some for methods that do not violate the Constitution.
dewine, greene county, ohio
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Wednesday, 27 February 2019 12:42 PM
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