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Gov. Mike DeWine: Lethal Injection No Longer Option For Executions

In this November 2005 file photo, Larry Greene, public information director of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, demonstrates how a curtain is pulled between the death chamber and witness room at the prison in Lucasville, Ohio.
Kiichiro Sato
Associated Press

Gov. Mike DeWine says Ohio lawmakers must choose a method of capital punishment other than lethal injection before any executions can be carried out in the future.

The Republican governor told the Associated Pressthat lethal injection is no longer an option for Ohio because of difficulties finding drugs, as well as repercussions the state could face from drug manufacturers if one of their pharmaceuticals was used in an execution.

Since taking office, DeWine has delayed every scheduled executionfor a death row inmate. Even those rescheduled for next year won't be happening – the governor said Tuesday that the state won't see any executions in 2021.

“Lethal injection appears to us to be impossible from a practical point of view today,” DeWine told the AP.

Lethal injection is the only method of capital punishment currently allowed under Ohio law. After some executed inmates in Ohio and other states appeared to experience pain and suffocation, however, advocates and lawyers for death row inmates argued that the lethal injection mixture constituted "cruel and unusual punishment."

A federal appeals court upheld the method in September 2019, but DeWine said he's become skeptical of capital punishment's effectiveness as a deterrent because of the long appeals process.

Other Republicans have expressed skepticism that the current death penalty law is enforceable, and a coalition of conservatives this year campaigned to abolish it entirely, calling it expensive, inefficient and inconsistent with pro-life views. Many Democrats have opposed the death penalty, as well.

A bipartisan bill was introduced earlier this year to abolish capital punishment and replace it with life without parole. That legislation, SB296, has yet to receive a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Ohio's last execution was in July 2018.

Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.