ELYRIA, Ohio - Beginning with its next execution, Ohio will use a revised lethal-injection protocol that allows executioners to use a second dose of sedative to ensure that a condemned inmate is sufficiently unconscious before fatal drugs are injected.
Ohio has said it previously made sure that inmates being executed were unconscious and, therefore, not in pain when fatal drugs were given, but death-penalty critics have argued that Ohio's process allows the possibility that execution causes pain. A federal lawsuit is challenging Ohio's lethal- injection system.
Greg Trout, lawyer for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, on yesterday confirmed a report in the (Elyria) Chronicle-Telegram that the procedures had been adjusted as of last week.
The next execution is planned for June 3, when the state plans to execute 39-year-old Daniel Wilson of Elyria. Wilson was sentenced to death for the 1991 murder of Carol Lutz, whom he locked in the trunk of her car before puncturing the gas tank and setting the car on fire.
Mr. Trout said the protocol changes amount to amendments of procedures in place. The three drugs used remain unchanged.
The policy directive says the prison warden will call the condemned inmate's name, shake his shoulder, and pinch his upper arm.
"If there is no response, it is a pretty clear indicator he is unconscious," Mr. Trout said.
The policy requires a close inspection of intravenous connections to assure they are adequate to deliver proper doses.
The revised protocol also requires that the execution team prepare four grams of the sedative, thiopental sodium, instead of the two grams that had been required. Mr. Trout said two grams will be used, as before; the other two grams would be used only if needed.
The amounts of pancuronium bromide, which follows the sedative and causes paralysis, and potassium chloride, which is the final drug given and induces a heart attack, remain the same as under the state's previous protocol, which had been in effect since October, 2006.
The state has come under fire from death-penalty opponents and death-row inmates who claim that there is no way to guarantee that an inmate is unconscious and free of pain before the final two drugs are administered.