Ohio Flubs Another Execution

Published September 16, 2009

It must be something about executing inmates in Ohio.

You may recall that three years ago, prison officials took an hour and a half to find a vein in Joseph Clark’s arm stable enough to carry the lethal cocktail that eventually extinguished his life. (During the tortuous ordeal, the terrified offender lifted his head from the death gurney, turned to his befuddled executioners and said –five times – “It don’t work!”) The following year, it took Ohio’s death administrators two hours to put down inmate Christopher Newton; as in the case of Clark, they had trouble locating a suitable vein.

On Tuesday, Ohio’s death-chamber woes continued. After officials at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility failed to find a vein in convicted killer-rapist Romell Broom, Gov. Ted Strickland extended the inmate’s life by one week. "Difficulties in administering the execution protocol necessitate a temporary reprieve," said Strickland's Warrant of Reprieve.

But in the eyes of Broom’s attorneys, and those who see the death penalty as a barbaric exercise, Strickland’s decree was no gesture of humanitarianism. Instead, they contend, Ohio’s missteps – which have occurred in other states as well – merely accentuate the fallibility, and cruelty, of state-sanctioned killings.

"I am advised by my co-counsel, Adele Shank, who is at the prison in Lucasville, that the execution team has been attempting since approximately 1 p.m. this afternoon to obtain IV access to a site in Mr. Broom's body in order for the lethal injections to be administered, but without any success,” Broom's defense attorney, Tim Sweeney, wrote Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Moyer on Tuesday. "It appears ... that these efforts have been going on now for almost two hours, and that the execution team members have evidently now taken a 'break,'" Sweeney wrote.

"When such allegedly skilled professionals have taken this much time without successfully achieving IV access, there comes a point of diminishing returns, and a point when further attempts are cruel and counterproductive," Sweeney wrote to Moyer. "I believe we have reached that point here.

Opponents of the death penalty contend that lethal injection should be overturned, arguing that it violates the cruel-land-unusual provision of the U.S. Constitution. Experts have said that inmates can suffer excruciating pain.

He told CNN that he would file an appeal to halt the execution of Broom, who was convicted in 1984 of abducting, stabbing and raping a 14-year-old girl.

Written by Ed Wiley III

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