Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Ohio Must End Death Penalty, Torture

Editorial Board

Editor’s Note: This article discusses the death penalty, rape, and murder.

The last time the state of Ohio ended a life with capital punishment, Dennis McGuire choked, gasped for air and writhed in agony for 26 minutes before finally dying. Unable to procure reliable lethal execution drugs — the Danish company that produces them now refuses to sell to the U.S. government — Ohio decided to experiment with an untested drug cocktail that had never been used in an execution. Doctors told state officials that McGuire might suffocate to death; they decided to run the risk and suffocated him anyway.

As the old adage goes, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” McGuire’s crime — raping and murdering a pregnant woman — was horrific, but so was the state of Ohio’s. Torturing someone to death violates fundamental moral standards at its most basic level. What the state government did to McGuire was an obvious case of “cruel and unusual punishment” prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. Outrageously, Ohio is now preparing to engage in this criminal undertaking again. What’s even more sickening is that the state will claim to do it in our name, on our behalf, as the people of Ohio. This evil practice stains us all.

Since the state still cannot procure reliable execution drugs, it is trying to experiment again for several executions scheduled in May. Fortunately, a federal court rejected the state’s plans yesterday, upholding a January 26 ruling that the state’s proposed drug cocktail “creates a substantial risk of serious harm.” However, the state looks set to appeal. Shame on Governor Kasich, who drapes himself in Christian moralism when politically convenient and casts it aside when it’s not.

Even if Ohio could kill incarcerated people without torture, applying the death penalty would still be a travesty. In Ohio’s history of executions, nine people have been found innocent while sitting on death row, begging the question: How many innocent people has our government killed?

Aside from extreme — and extremely rare — cases of self defense, killing is obviously wrong. If our society believes in that principle, instead of just paying it lip service, then the death penalty is an absurdity. Killing someone because they killed someone else makes no sense. It’s the “they-started-it” argument that kindergarten teachers reject every day in the schoolyard. The death penalty is revenge dressed in the guise of justice, and people of moral conscious should reject it.

Not only is the death penalty a moral atrocity, it’s an act of financial idiocy as well. Since the state brought back the death penalty in 1981, less than 20 percent of those sentenced to death have been executed, according to Attorney General Mike DeWine’s 2016 volume of “Capital Crimes Annual Report,” published last Friday. More prisoners have been exonerated or have had their sentences reduced than have been executed in that time. This exorbitant legal wrangling costs the state far more than housing prisoners indefinitely.

The death penalty is a revolt against moral law and basic logic. Ohio’s practice of torturing prisoners to death verges on the kind of depravity that would, in a just world, end with state officials in the docket at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. In Ohio and across the country, let the death penalty get the death penalty.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Ohio Must End Death Penalty, Torture”

  1. David Yewdall on April 9th, 2017 1:29 PM

    Although i tend to lean on the side of the death
    I would strongly object to torture because the state of Ohio and any other state for that matter
    If they can not get or procure the appropiate drugs
    To get the disired effect then and only then should the execution be cancelled tillsuch times as they can .
    It would seem to me that the musell relaxing drug failed to kick in if the guy was struggling for his breath as the mussel relaxant should in effect
    Paralyse system and there should have been no
    Outward sign of him gasping and wreching
    To to breath hence the suffocation..
    In a situation like this happening obviously
    They could not give an antidote or oxygen there fore it would have been kinder to place a pllow over
    Is face and suffocate him its doubtfull that it would have taken 25/ 26 minutes to dispatch him
    There is no pleasant way to take some ones life
    But it should be done with dignity and a minimum
    Of suffering.
    I would have thought experimenting with drugs to
    End human life was or is not part of there remit
    They are executioners not scientists medically trained to do experiments as i said previously
    I do not opose the death penalty but it must be done correctly with the correct drugs with no
    Unessary suffering

Established 1874.
Ohio Must End Death Penalty, Torture