Sunday, June 8, 2014

What’s wrong with Ohio’s death penalty? Not a thing

Matthew T. Mangino
The Youngstown Vindicator
June 8, 2014
Ohio’s death penalty is back in the news. Federal Judge Gregory Frost has ordered a 2 1/2-month moratorium on executions to figure out what is wrong with the death penalty. The answer is simple — there is nothing wrong with Ohio’s death penalty.
The temporary order delays executions scheduled for July and August while attorneys prepare arguments over the state’s new lethal- injection procedure. Ohio has led the way in lethal injection. In the last five years, Ohio has used a three-drug protocol, moved to a single- drug protocol and now utilizes a two-drug protocol. Along the way, Ohio has utilized a number of different drugs for executions — at times being the first state to use a new drug.
In January, the execution of Dennis McGuire did not go as planned. The execution that was supposed to last about 10 minutes lasted 25 minutes instead. Last month, in Oklahoma Clayton Lockett’s execution went really bad. In fact, the execution was stopped and Lockett later died of a heart attack.
Penalty rhetoric
Judge Frost has been up to his elbows in death- penalty rhetoric dating back to a “botched” execution in 2009. He has used terms like “human experimentation” when talking about Ohio’s lethal injection protocol and “lip service” when talking about the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s policy implementation.
In fact, this isn’t the first time in the last five years that Judge Frost imposed an execution moratorium. With that said, Ohio has been at the forefront of execution policy nationwide.
Only Texas has executed more people than Ohio since 2010. That year, chronicled in my book “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010,” Ohio carried out eight executions all on the heels of Judge Frost’s first moratorium.
Ohio’s death penalty works because executions are being carried out. That is not the case in most states and therein lies the problem. In Pennsylvania, there are approximately 193 men and women on death row and that number grows every year. Only four states have more killers on death row.
However, Pennsylvania has executed only three killers since 1978 and all three volunteered to be executed. Since that time, 24 death- row inmates died of natural causes and three committed suicide. The last person executed in Pennsylvania was Philadelphia serial killer Gary Heidnik in 1999.
Death row
Ohio has 143 men and women on death row. In 2010, when Ohio carried out eight executions, the state added an equal amount of offenders to death row with newly imposed death sentences.
In 1994, the heyday of the modern death penalty, there were 328 men and women sentenced to death nationwide. In 2010, there were far fewer offenders sentenced to death, 112, still more than twice the number executed that year.
As I argued in “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010,” few believe that the 3,100 or so men and women on the nation’s death rows will ultimately face execution.
Let’s say that death-penalty verdicts continue at 2010’s pace of 112 per year for the next 10 years. There would be approximately 4,500 men and women on death row. Let’s say that all 32 states with the death penalty executed one offender a month for the next 10 years — that is not entirely realistic since only eight states have more than 120 offenders on death row — at that frantic, and frankly impossible, pace, death row would still be populated.
Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, the likelihood that an offender sentenced to death will ultimately be executed is about 1 in 7. The problem with the death penalty isn’t lethal injection or the electric chair and firing squad as some states are considering; the problem is having a criminal sanction that is sparingly sought, rarely imposed, and the act of carrying it out has become so rare that it appears arbitrary.
Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino
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dudleysharp said...


16% of all death row cases are executed and an additonal 50% are removed for other reasons, inclusive of by appellate decsion, other deaths and commutations.

So 66% of the current 3100 will be removed and the number of cases will not rise to the level you indoicated.

The main problem, as in Pa, is judges that do not homor the law or the jury decsions and do everything they can to stop death sentneces from being carried out.

Virginia has executed 70% of their deathr row inmates (108 executions) since 1976 and has done so within 7.1 years, on average.

All states could do that with judges that respected the law.

Judges Responsible for Grossly Uneven Executions

Judges are responsible for grossly uneven executions, demonstrating dictatorial like contempt for the law in those states where it is, virtually, impossible to execute confirmed murderers.

If abortions had to be individually, approved or rejected, by judicial ruling, and some states approved them at a 50-70% rate and others at a 0-10% rate, do you think the media might notice?

dudleysharp said...

Some additonal perspective:

The (Imagined) Horror of Dennis McGuire's Execution

dudleysharp said...

Clayton Lockett: The Case for Execution
Dudley Sharp

Make the effort to think of your daughters, granddaughters and sisters, or any loved ones, as these victims and their family members were forced to do.

During a home invasion and kidnapping:

A, completely, innocent Stephanie Neiman, 19, was shot twice with a shotgun. The criminals made Stephanie watch as they dug her grave. Stephanie was placed, alive, in that grave, moaning and crying, and buried, alive (1).

Summer Hair was anally and vaginally raped, twice, on separate occasions and different locations and forced to perform oral sex. She lived (1).

Lockett gave a full confession, with no remorse.

Lockett was an ongoing, continuing threat while on death row (2), just as he was before these crimes.

In the full context of Lockett's crimes and his death, there is no reason for anyone to use them as a reason to abandoned the death penalty and every reason to reflect on why some crimes deserve the death penalty.

Remember Stephanie and Summer.

Predictably, death penalty opponents are using Lockett as their newest poster murderer to fight death penalty support.

Anti death penalty legislators in the New Hampshire House of Representatives even used Lockett as the foundation for a re-vote on death penalty repeal.

Fortunately, with that re-vote, the House had 7 fewer votes for repeal and 13 more votes for retention. Thank you. The Senate refused to reconsider and the death penalty remains.

Lockett's crimes call for more death penalty support.


Death penalty opponents, in all states, are using Lockett's botched execution, in Oklahoma, to call for an end to execution, as is New Hampshire.

Odd. Oklahoma has a history of successful executions, which is, somehow, being forgotten.

Nationally, much less than 1% of lethal injections have any problems (cut downs are not problems, but solutions).

Could Lockett have exhibited those noises and movements while unconscious? Of course. Could he have been conscious? Of course.

At this point, no one even knows, for sure, if Lockett suffered. Depending upon how much of the drugs were administered IV and how much, intra muscular, after his vein blow out, we cannot know if he suffered or if he was conscious. Hopefully, the autopsy and expected review can tell us.

But, we do know what happened to Stephanie and Summer. Don't forget them.

Blow outs are not uncommon, with IV administration, worldwide. They are no big deal.

With executions, the proper protocol is to have a second IV line, ready to go. Had that been done in Lockett's case, there would have been a brief delay, from the blow out, then the second IV would have been used and no one would have even noticed.

So, let's wait until the full report and stop any blind speculation.

We know what happened with all the blind speculation in McGuire's execution (3) in Ohio. Let's not duplicate that nonsense with Lockett.


2) "Friends of victim have zero sympathy for Clayton Lockett", New York Daily News, May 2, 2014,

3) The (Imagined) Horror of Dennis McGuire's Execution

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