Section: News

Local Digest: Controversy surrounds lethal-injection drugs used for death penalty

Local Digest is the Collegian’s newest weekly feature, which highlights the latest developments in news stories across the state and county.

After months of controversy, Ohio government lawyers have officially requested permission from federal courts to destroy expired lethal-injection drugs used for executing death-row inmates, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

This request comes a few days after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision of a Dayton judge who said the three lethal injection drugs used cause sensations of drowning and then burning when administered, making their use unconstitutional, according to the Dispatch.

Despite the Circuit Court’s ruling that the drugs are constitutional, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has still called for a hold on all executions until the state’s death penalty method can be investigated and unexpired drugs can be obtained. However, reports that pharmaceutical companies appear reluctant to sell these drugs, which have other medical uses, to the state for use in executions. DeWine has not proposed any alternative execution method, and it is unclear how long his hold on all executions will last.

Ohio is not unfamiliar to controversy surrounding its death penalty procedures. The state, sometimes called the “Texas of the North,” ranks seventh nationwide in numbers of executions, with 55 having been performed between 2000 and 2014, according to In 2014, the 25-minute-long death by lethal injection of Dennis McGuire, during which he repeatedly spasmed, gasped for air and received worldwide attention, according to The fallout lead to a three-and-a-half year stall on executions, during which the Ohio government developed the three-drug protocol that is currently being challenged. These controversies have led groups, such as Ohioans to Stop Executions, to advocate more aggressively for an end for Ohio’s death penalty. It is unclear as of yet whether Governor DeWine and the Ohio Legislature will move towards doing so.

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