Today, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty renewed its call for a halt to all executions nationwide, in response to this week’s new findings by a medical expert indicating that an Ohio prisoner was conscious and likely suffered a prolonged and lingering death during a lethal injection in January.
“There is a disconnect between the reality of what is taking place in a handful of execution chambers in this country and our American values. States that continue to use the death penalty are just not getting it right—in more ways than one,” said Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, “We are grateful that a Federal District judge, this week, extended a moratorium on executions in Ohio. For now, corrections workers and Ohio citizens will be spared, what has been in other states, an escalating trend of traumatizing botched executions. And we commend Ohio Governor John Kasich for his earlier leadership in postponing executions until these questions could be sorted out.”
“But a minority of states are barreling ahead, unable to or unwilling to put the brakes on a system that teeters precariously on the edge of disaster,” continued Rust-Tierney. “Oklahoma has scheduled three executions within a four week period later this year and we still don’t have all the answers to what went wrong with the state’s execution of Clayton Lockett. Lockett suffered a heart attack after a failed execution took 45 minutes. At the time, we thought that was the worst we had ever seen. Then Arizona took it a step further with the recent execution of Joseph Wood who gasped for air for two hours. This wave of horribly botched executions is just one example of a system that is failing and broken from top to bottom. We still risk sentencing one in four innocent people to death. Add to that the possibility that an innocent person might die in some horrible way—it is really too much to contemplate. This will not change until concerned citizens insist that these executions stop. This is not our way. This is not who we are.”