Lack of Lethal Drugs in Ohio Delays Executions Until 2017

Ohio is postponing executions by lethal injection until at least 2017 because of a shortage of supplies, the prisons department announced Monday.

Execution dates for 11 inmates scheduled for next year and one scheduled for early 2017 were all extended through warrants of reprieve issued by Gov. John Kasich, according to the Associated Press.

Ohio has run out of drugs and is struggling to acquire new supplies, even from overseas.

The prisons department “continues to seek all legal means to obtain the drugs necessary to carry out court ordered executions, but over the past few years it has become exceedingly difficult to secure those drugs because of severe supply and distribution restrictions,” the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said in a statement.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien expressed his frustration with the delays.

“It seems that in those states that authorize assisted suicide, there has been no impediment to securing drugs, and as time marches onward, victims wonder why they must continue to wait for justice,” O’Brien said.

At Ohio’s last execution in 2014 killer, Dennis McGuire, gasped and snorted during a 26-minute procedure, the longest in Ohio history, as a new two-drug combination was used, according to the Associated Press.

The state has since ceased the two-drug method. Sodium thiopental, one of the abandoned drugs, is not manufactured by Federal Drug Administration-approved companies anymore, and the other pentobarbital, has been prohibited for executions by drug makers.

Ronald Phillips’ execution, which was scheduled for Jan. 21 for raping and killing his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter in Akron in 1993, is rescheduled for Jan. 12, 2017.

Asha Campbell, a fourth-year elementary education student from Jacksonville, Fla. expressed her empathy for the victim’s families.

“It’s bad enough that the families who were victimized had to lose their loved ones, but now they also have to endure prolonged justice,” Campbell said.

Questions of legality surrounding state-to-state transactions for chemical drugs like between Texas and Virginia for the execution for serial killer Alfredo Prieto circulate.

“Over the years, we have seen states obtain drugs for execution in ways that clearly do not comply with legal and regulatory frameworks,”  Megan McCracken, a lethal-injection expert with the Death Penalty Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, said.

According to ABC News, Ohio obtained a federal import license to seek supplies overseas, but the FDA said that it might be illegal. The state continues to assert that “it can obtain a lethal-injection drug from overseas without violating any laws.”

The FDA has not responded to their appeals yet.