Fake News: Botched execution debated

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Sept. 21) — Observers on both sides of the death penalty debate weighed in over the weekend on the botched execution of an Ohio man whose collapsed veins couldn’t accommodate the lethal injection designed to kill him. Opponents argued the convict’s death penalty should be commuted and that he should be given a party, complete with frosted cupcakes. Proponents said he should be killed the same way he murdered his victim, except upside down and while watching an episode of “Gossip Girl.”

Gov. Ted Strickland issued a one-week reprieve on Sept. 15 to Romell Brown, 53, who spent more than two hours awaiting execution as technicians struggled to find a vein strong enough to deliver the three-drug cocktail.

As prison workers tried to administer the injection and failed repeatedly, a cooperative Brown volunteered at one point to hit himself over the head with a nearby fire extinguisher. The team met briefly in an adjacent room to consider the offer, but ultimately rejected it as a violation of prison protocol. Brown then offered to go out to an adjacent interstate highway and run in front of a truck. This was immediately rejected by the head of the execution team, saying he’d “probably try to run away instead.”

State officials denied that attempting a second execution this week would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Strickland had been notified of the difficulties about 30 minutes after the process began, and had offered to “come down there and beat the crap out of the guy, if you want me to.” Strickland ultimately opted not to make the 30-minute drive to the prison.

Prisons director Terry Collins said the effort to execute the prisoner was abandoned after about two hours of failed attempts. Doctors and nurses are forbidden by ethics constraints from participating in executions, so a group of cafeteria workers had been enlisted to insert the shunt into Brown’s veins. The prisoner slid the rubber tubing up his arm, moved the arm up and down, and flexed and closed his fingers, trying to get a vein to appear. When this failed, team members stabbed randomly at his legs with a fork, causing him to grimace in apparent pain.

At one point, a member of the execution team patted him on the back and appeared to mouth the words “it’s alright, you’ll be okay.” The condemned man covered his face with both hands, then began to wipe his brow with an ether-soaked rag the technicians tried to sneak past him. He appeared exasperated with the workers’ attempts to kill him, particularly after they took a second smoke break.

Ohio’s lethal injection protocol has been modified several times since it was introduced in 1993. In one change that I swear I’m not making up, the prison warden now shakes and calls out to the condemned after anesthesia is injected, to establish that he is unconscious before the lethal drugs are administered.

While liberals such as Richard Dieter of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center predictably complained about the missteps, his counterparts at the Coalition for Killing Not Just Convicts But Suspects as Well said the process simply needed tinkering. Alex Henderson said that instead of constantly trying to improve the capital punishment process, innovations such as lethal injection should be added cumulatively to standing procedures instead of replacing older methods.

“If we injected and electrocuted and gassed and shot and hung and beheaded these guys, then made them attend a Cleveland Indians twi-night doubleheader, there wouldn’t be any mishaps like this,” Henderson said.

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5 Responses to “Fake News: Botched execution debated”

  1. paythepiper Says:

    And I always thought Texas had the highest rate of executions in the country because we have so dang many criminals. Looks like the real reason is just that we’re so good at it…..
    And while I’m on the subject of state-ranking, a little gem from today’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram: New census figures show that Texas is now ranked 51st in the country for its proportion of residents with a high school education, beaten out of last place by, you guessed it, Mississippi! And an even bigger prize – health care statistics show that Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured residents in the country.
    Looks like you might have to amend South Carolina’s unofficial motto!
    Huh, I wonder if there is any correlation between crime rates and lack of education…

  2. shoalswriter Says:

    Hey, thanks for stopping by my blog, because that led me back to yours and I love it! Looking forward to being a regular visitor here.

  3. fakename2 Says:

    I was never really good at math, so somebody has to explain to me how you can be ranked 51st out of 50. So that would make Mississippi #52. I mean it makes sense to me, but there is that math thing.

  4. paythepiper Says:

    … good point, fakename2 ….. Too much wine with breakfast and not enough caffeine in my system….

  5. fakename2 Says:

    Lol piper, was all in good fun. Maybe that wine at breakfast thing is why it all made sense to me anyway.

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