Press Release: Ohio Execution Goes Badly

Ohio Execution Goes Badly

For Immediate Release 1/17/2014 Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty wishes to express our deepest sympathy to the family of Joy Stewart who was senselessly murdered in 1989. Any murder is a terrible crime and as a society needs to be mourned. Joy’s confessed killer was executed on Wednesday at the Lucasville Ohio prison. Another set of victim family members was created in a very ghastly manner, with the execution of convicted death row inmate Dennis McGuire. At the same time the Ohio authorities, who carried out the execution using an untested protocol of lethal injections, putting the citizens of Ohio and the world on the alert that the death penalty is flawed in many ways……….... one of them being the manner of execution. The former and customary combination of three drugs used in executions was replaced by Ohio authorities with a two-drug combination that was never tested. Reports from eye witnesses, including McGuire’s children, stated that the executed man was in visible pain, gasping for breath and heaving in his restraints for over 15 minutes. American pharmaceutical companies have stopped making the former drugs used in executions and the European companies refuse to send such drugs to this country because they oppose the death penalty and will not be complicit in United States executions. Media reporters, bloggers, social media outlets and organizations against the death penalty, are flooding print and electronic media with calls for Ohio’s Governor Kasich to immediately declare a moratorium, as Oregon Governor Kitzhaber has done, which would stop the five other executions scheduled for this year in Ohio. Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty join in that plea. It is time for every state, including Oregon, to reexamine the death penalty. Immediately following the execution, Terry Collins the retired director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, who oversaw 33 other executions made a statement that said in part: “Ohioans, whether they support or oppose the death penalty, should take notice that one of the greatest critics of capital punishment is the same man who once supported it and worked to make it law. The reasonable course of action for state officials is to begin to have serious and thoughtful conversations about whether Ohio's death penalty remains necessary, fair and effective. My experience tells me that our justice system can be even more effective and fair without Death Rows and the death penalty.” Joining Mr. Collins in speaking out today, Frank Thompson, former Superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary, who supervised the only two Oregon executions in the past fifty years states: “Any state that conducts executions runs the risk of assigning a staff person to a task that could render them a victim of post-traumatic stress. No state has the right to take such risks with the well-being of decent and loyal public servants in the name of a public policy that cannot be shown to work. To do so, when there are reasonable alternatives such as life without the possibility of parole, renders the state as acting in a morally irresponsible manner. Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (OADP) has been promoting the debate that Governor Kitzhaber asked for when declaring the Oregon moratorium. This incident in Ohio puts a gruesome exclamation point on this local and nation-wide debate that is called for. For more information contact Ron Steiner, board chair of OADP. (503) 990-7060 or rsteiner@swcp.com

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