In December 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that lethal injection is no longer an option for Ohio executions and lawmakers must choose a different method of capital punishment if any prisoners are to be put to death in the future. The governor stated that “[l]ethal injection appears to us to be impossible from a practical point of view,” adding that he does not expect any executions to take place in 2021.
This announcement followed a series of reprieves issued by Governor DeWine in 2019 and 2020 due to the unavailability of lethal injection drugs and concerns over the public health consequences of using medicines in executions. It also follows the January 2019 opinion by a federal magistrate judge who compared Ohio’s lethal injection process to a combination of waterboarding, suffocation, and exposure to chemical fire, and concluded that executions under Ohio’s lethal injection protocol “will almost certainly subject [prisoners] to severe pain and needless suffering.”
The Governor has repeatedly cited public health concerns raised by pharmaceutical companies who communicated to Ohio state officials their opposition to the misuse of medicines in executions, expressing the risks that such misuse could result in shortages that would harm patients nationwide.