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November 14 2009 | UNITED STATES

USA/Ohio

Ohio will use one drug in executions. Unforeseen side effects

 
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The New York Times

Ohio Is First to Change to One Drug in Executions

By IAN URBINA - November 14, 2009

Breaking ranks with the 35 other states that use lethal injections to execute prisoners, Ohio on Friday became the first state to say it would switch to a single drug, rather than a three-drug cocktail, in its death penalty procedure.

Critics have long argued that using a single drug, the preferred method in animal euthanasia, is more humane than the three-drug cocktail, which involves a short-acting barbiturate to render the inmate unconscious, followed by a paralytic and then a chemical to stop the heart. But states have resisted changing the three-drug procedure, which has been in use since the late 1970s. And in a 2008 ruling that upheld Kentucky’s method of putting condemned prisoners to death, the Supreme Court rejected the claim that the three-drug cocktail posed an unconstitutional risk of a condemned inmate’s suffering acute yet undetectable pain.

Legal scholars said the Ohio decision represented a mixed blessing for death penalty opponents.

“This is a victory for those who complained particularly about the three-drug protocol,” said Douglas A. Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University. “However, death penalty opponents may find it even harder to complain about execution procedures if courts endorse this new approach and if Ohio is able to conduct executions without incident using this new protocol.”

Deborah W. Denno, a law professor at Fordham University, said the shift would have “national repercussions in that it is foreseeable that other states will follow.”

Ohio’s decision came in response to the failed Sept. 15 execution of Romell Broom, 53, who was convicted of the 1984 abduction, rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl.

Mr. Broom sobbed with pain as prison officials repeatedly stuck him with a needle for nearly two hours in a failed effort to find a usable vein. Gov. Ted Strickland eventually ordered a stop to the execution, and experts said it was the first time that an execution by lethal injection had failed and been rescheduled in the United States.

On Sept. 18, a federal court in Ohio issued a temporary restraining order blocking the state from trying to execute Mr. Broom again, after his lawyers filed a motion arguing that a second attempt would violate the constitutional ban on “cruel and unusual punishment.”

The new procedure announced Friday involves administering a massive dose of an anesthetic. If that fails, prison officials will then inject two chemicals — midazolam and hydromorphone — directly into the inmate’s muscles. “I have full confidence that this protocol will allow my staff the ability to fulfill our legally mandated obligation in carrying out the execution process,” said Terry J. Collins, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Ty Alper, associate director of the Death Penalty Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, called the change “a significant step forward.”

“The hope is that other states will realize that there is no need to paralyze inmates before executing them,” he said, “and that, in fact, doing so risks a horribly torturous execution.”

Richard C. Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, which opposes the death penalty, said that while he saw the policy change as an important step forward, he did not believe that Mr. Broom would be executed any time soon. He said he anticipated that the new method would be delayed by extensive court challenges, with medical experts lining up to testify on both sides of whether the single-drug method is humane.

“The simple fact is that no one knows whether this method will work on humans,” he said, “and what unforeseen side effects there could be to using the drug in this way.”

 

AFP

USA: nouvelle méthode d'exécution dans l'Ohio: un poison au lieu de trois

WASHINGTON, 13 nov 2009 - L'Etat de l'Ohio, où un condamné à mort a subi récemment une spectaculaire exécution ratée, va changer la façon dont il met à mort ses condamnés, optant pour l'injection d'un seul produit mortel au lieu de trois, selon une motion déposée vendredi par le procureur de l'Etat.

"D'abord, l'Ohio n'utilisera plus le protocole d'exécution contenant trois produits. A la place, l'Ohio va utiliser une injection mortelle ne comprenant qu'un seul produit chimique, le thiopental sodium, en quantité suffisante pour causer la mort (...)", explique le procureur de cet Etat du nord des Etats-Unis, Richard Cordray, dans sa motion devant un tribunal fédéral.

L'Ohio n'utilisera plus qu'un seul puissant anesthésiant, abandonnant les poisons paralysant le système musculaire et bloquant le coeur. "Ce produit sera injecté par intraveineuse au condamné. Ni bromure de pancuronium, ni chlorure de potassium ne serontutilisés", précise-t-il.

La quasi-totalité des Etats appliquant la peine de mort aux Etats-Unis utilisent une méthode élaborée en 1977 dans le souci d'offrir au condamné une mort paisible et rapide.

L'injection mortelle consiste traditionnellement en l'administration de trois produits: un anesthésiant puissant proche du propofol, le thiopental sodium, un curare paralysant, le bromure de pancuronium, et une surdose de chlorure de potassium qui arrête le coeur.

Mais si l'anesthésiant est mal administré, les deux autres produits sont extrêmement douloureux, comme l'ont démontré plusieurs études scientifiques ainsi qu'une série d'exécutions ratées.

Le 15 septembre dernier, un condamné de 53 ans, Romell Broom, a subi pendant deux heures en Ohio les assauts des trois membres de l'équipe d'exécution de l'Etat qui ont piqué ses bras, ses mains et ses jambes 18 fois.

Le directeur de la prison a finalement jeté l'éponge, reportant l'exécution puisque son équipe n'avait pas réussi à isoler une veine susceptible de supporter le cathéter par lequel l'injection mortelle est diffusée.

Romell Broom est alors devenu le premier condamné à mort à survivre à son exécution aux Etats-Unis depuis 1946. Ses avocats ont déposé des recours pour qu'il ne subisse pas deux fois la même épreuve.

La nouvelle méthode d'exécution de l'Ohio sera applicable dès le 30 novembre.

Le changement a été salué par les militants pour des méthodes d'exécution plus humaines. "L'Ohio est devenu le premier Etat appliquant la peine de mort à abandonner la pratique consistant à paralyser les condamnés avant de les exécuter. Dans la nouvelle forme d'injection mortelle, ni le produit paralysant ni le très douloureux chlorure de potassium ne seront administrés aux condamnés", a affirmé dans un communiqué la Death Penalty Clinic de la faculté de droit de Berkeley (Californie, ouest). "C'est une étape majeure. Paralyser les condamnés avant de les exécuter pour qu'ils ne puissent pas dire qu'ils souffrent est une pratique barbare et l'Ohio doit être félicité pour l'avoir abandonnée", conclut Ty Alper, directeur de ce département qui enseigne aux futurs avocats à défendre ceux qui risquent la peine capitale.

vmt/cel

 

ANSA

USA: PENA MORTE; OHIO CAMBIA, UN VELENO INVECE DI TRE

 WASHINGTON, 13 NOV - Da oggi in Ohio l'iniezione letale che serve per giustiziare i condannati a morte conterra' solo una sostanza e non tre, come in passato. Questo stato del Midwest diventa cosi' il primo negli Stati Uniti ad adottare un protocollo di questo tipo. Nelle vene dei detenuti sara' iniettata una forte dose di un anestetico, il 'thiopental sodium', che si suppone abbia il potere di addormentare e poi causare la morte del condannato.

Questo cambiamento arriva dopo il caso di Rommel Broom, il giovane condannato a morte al quale a settembre il boia, dopo piu' di due ore di strazianti tentativi, non riusci' a trovare la vena per iniettargli il cocktail letale. Tutte le altre esecuzioni sono state rinviate in attesa che le autorita' decidessero il da farsi. L'Ohio ha avuto difficolta' nel trovare personale medico che olesse collaborare per trovare una soluzione sulle procedure da adottare in una iniezione letale, tenuto conto che le regole etiche dei medici e degli operatori della sanita' dello stato proibiscono espressamente ogni loro coinvolgimento nelle punizioni capitali.

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