Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday that state prison officials can’t find any company willing to supply drugs as an execution alternative to one that essentially has been declared cruel and unusual.
He said he would talk to Statehouse leaders about legislation allowing a different execution method. Some Ohio death row inmates have been asking to be executed by firing squad, while two Tennessee inmates last year opted to be executed in the electric chair. Ohio’s “Old Sparky” has been in storage for years.
DeWine delayed four executions early this year after a federal judge in Dayton said Ohio’s current intravenous protocol came perilously close to violating constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. One was rescheduled for Sept. 12, but DeWine on Wednesday said that was under review.
Makers of drugs used in executions have said in recent years that they don’t want their products used in executions.
Ohio had been buying the drugs through its Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and then driving them down to the death house at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility without telling drugmakers what the substances would be used for. However, DeWine said the drugmakers have told the state that if they suspect that any of their products would be used in executions, they would stop selling to the state altogether, potentially depriving tens of thousands of Ohioans of important medicine.
“We are in a very difficult situation,” DeWine said.