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Governor Says No Legal Execution Method Found Under Ohio Law

Executions are carried out at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
Daniel Konik
Executions are carried out at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.

Gov. Mike DeWine is saying no executions will take place in Ohio anytime soon – because the state can’t find a method under state law that would get approval from a federal court.

DeWine said earlier this year that no executions would go forward until the state had a method for executions that would be okayed by a federal court. He asked the prisons department to come up with a new method to replace the three drugs it uses now, which are nearly impossible to find.

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Director Annette Chambers-Smith said her agency wouldn't rush the development of that protocol. DeWine said in May, "We expect to have a protocol to submit to the court sometime in the next several weeks."

But speaking after a meeting at the Ohio Expo Commission, he said there’s a problem: “We see no protocol that we could put forward that would be allowed under Ohio law."

DeWine said he fears retribution from companies that sell the state drugs for Medicaid and other programs – some of which have said they don’t want their drugs used in executions.

And as for the proposal from Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster) to use police-seized fentanyl?

“Based on what I have been told by people who are familiar with fentanyl, we do not believe it would pass constitutional muster," DeWine said.

Wiggam has said fentanyl was used in Nebraska last year, and that he’ll make changes to his bill, which he says will have co-sponsors. He's been circulating a request for lawmakers to sign onto his proposal, and said there's interest, but hasn't said how many would attach their names to it. Ohio would be the first state in the country to pass this idea if it goes through.

DeWine has delayed five executions this year, including the execution of Wayne Keith Henness, which he put off for a second time last month.

Two executions are set for later this year, one in November and one in December. A total of 25 inmates are set for execution through 2024.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.
Karen Kasler
Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.
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