Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ohio Considers New Execution Drug Following Oklahoma Execution

Ohio was the First State to Adopt a Single Drug Protocol

Ohio is studying a federal court decision that backed Oklahoma's use of an execution drug commonly used to euthanize animals, reported the Associated Press. This week, Oklahoma became the first state to use pentobarbital when it executed a convicted killer.

Late last year, Ohio became the first state to adopt a single drug protocol for executions. Ohio uses a strong dose of sodium thiopental to put inmates to death. Ohio's Kenneth Biros was the first person in the U.S. executed using a single drug injection in place of the three-drug protocol used in every other state at the time. Washington state has since also adopted the single drug protocol.

There has been a shortage of sodium thiopental a drug used for executions in all of the 35 states that currently carry out executions. Sodium thiopental's sole U.S. manufacturer, Hospira Inc. of Lake Forest, Ill., has blamed the shortage on unspecified problems with its raw-material suppliers and said new batches will not be available until January at the earliest. The company produces the drug as an anesthetic and has deplored its use in executions.

Earlier this year, prison officials said they would consider asking the governor to issue execution delays for condemned inmates if the shortage affects the state's supply. However, there has been no delay in Ohio. The state has carried out eight executions in 2010, the most since reinstating the death penalty in 1999.

Ohio prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith told the Associated Press, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction was examining the decision by a federal appeals court that backed Oklahoma's move. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it agreed with an expert's testimony that "pentobarbital is highly likely to cause death in five minutes or within a short time thereafter."

Oklahoma prisons spokesman Jerry Massie told the Associated Press, after the execution, that there did not appear to be any problems with the new drug.

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