COLUMBUS — Ohio is likely to come up with a new process for executing condemned inmates no later than Oct. 4 as the supply of its current drug expires, according to a court filing.
The new process, which is not spelled out in the filing, will apply to the November execution of Ronald Phillips, who is sentenced to die for raping and killing his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter in Akron in 1993, according to the order filed Monday by federal Judge Gregory Frost.
Frost’s order notes that the process won’t be in place for next month’s execution of Harry Mitts. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction raised the likelihood of a plan by Oct. 4 in a recent telephone conference with the judge, according to the order.
The prisons department declined to comment today.
The change in the execution process is necessary because supplies of the sedative pentobarbital, the drug Ohio uses for executions, have been put off limits by its manufacturer, and the state’s remaining supply expires at the end of September.
It’s unlikely the state would switch to a method not involving drugs. The state eliminated the electric chair as an option a decade ago in part out of prison authorities’ concerns about the potential stress on those carrying out the execution.
One option floated by Ohio authorities is obtaining the drug from compounding pharmacies, which are licensed to create small batches of drugs for specific clients.
Ohio also has a backup method involving two drugs injected into muscles. That method has never been used.
This would be the third time the state has changed its protocol because of difficulty finding an execution drug. Manufacturers also restricted distribution of sodium thiopental, the drug used before pentobarbital.
Among other states struggling to find alternatives are Georgia, Missouri and Arkansas.
A legal challenge has placed a hold on Missouri’s proposal to use propofol.
Arkansas’ governor has held off scheduling executions as the state’s Department of Correction plans to rewrite its lethal injection procedure to include a different drug or drugs and as prisoners continue to challenge the state’s new execution law in court.
In Georgia, after the state’s supply of pentobarbital expired in March, it acquired the drug from a compounding pharmacy, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press in a records request.
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