This piece from Grantland.com has been making news since it was published. But what started as mostly praise quickly turned into criticism, threats and then explanations and apologies. Read it before class Wednesday.
Ohio became the first state to use a two-drug protocol for lethal injection on Jan. 16, which caused controversy in world news and caused mixed reactions with some Ohioans.
Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire was the first inmate in the US to be executed using a new combination of drugs. This new method caused him to experience 10 minutes of convulsing and gasping for air, reporters who witnessed it said. He was pronounced dead 24 minutes later at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. The prolonged execution has some Ohioans feeling like it was cruel and unusual punishment, while others who have no remorse.
Ryan King, associate professor in sociology of law and crime and deviance, said that the state has their eye on the wrong ball.
“It’s an important discussion to be had, but the larger issue is that the state is killing someone and how humane they’re doing so,” King said.
McGuire was found guilty in 1994 for the rape and murder of 22-year-old Joy Stewart, who was seven months pregnant. However, he was not aware he would be executed differently.
Meredith Gibson, a third-year criminology and sociology double-major, said that based on an educational standpoint, McGuire’s case was cruel and unusual punishment because it is unique.
“I’ve learned about procedural law and the rules and regulations that dictate how this execution should’ve been done,” Gibson explained. “All of the inmates on death row before McGuire were entitled to a quick death, but he had to suffer while those before him didn’t in the same way.”
Others feel differently and do not remorse over the case.
Bob Sherman, a third-year in criminology and a member of ROTC, said McGuire’s extended execution is nothing for the state to feel bad for.
“He was convicted for killing a pregnant woman so his suffering is the last thing anyone should worry about,” Sherman said.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, this is not the first time Ohio has been the first state to try new lethal injection methods.
In December 2009, Ohio was the first state to use a one-drug method of sodium thiopental. After switching the one-drug protocol to pentobarbital in March 2011, no problems were reported until there was a shortage of the drug. After restrictions on its use were enforced by its European manufacturer, the state changed to a two-drug combination of midazolam and hydromorphone first used on McGuire.
Paul Bellair, professor of sociology with an expertise in crime, deviance and social control, talked about the state’s decision to switch to a two-drug combination.
“The state has to be very careful in the decisions it is making about which drugs to use because they are legally liable for the decisions they make in correctional contexts,” Bellair explained. “They have to be sure that what they are doing is medically sound and the fact that they used the specific combination of drugs selected implies that they feel comfortable that their decision is legally sound.”
Regardless of agreeing with putting Mcguire to death, Sherman thinks the state should change their drug protocol based off of this situation.
“The drug sounds really ineffective and should be changed to a formula that kills the prisoner faster and that’s more efficient,” Shermann says.
McGuire’s execution is currently under investigation of whether or not his convulsions and suffocation were staged and coached.