Father Lawrence Hummer had been told the lethal injection of Dennis McGuire would probably take about five minutes. Just about that much time had passed when something ghastly happened. “He started struggling for breath,” said Hummer, who knew McGuire from masses he celebrated for Ohio’s Catholic death-row prisoners and volunteered to be a witness at his January 2014 execution.
Nearly a dozen anti-death penalty groups are hoping nearly 100,000 signatures will get Ohio Governor John Kasich to put the state’s first execution in more than three years on hold.
Instead of wasting resources trying to execute a handful of killers, Ohio can do better for all victims’ families. My family could have used counseling and other kinds of support instead, which I believe would have helped our recovery and grief. Ohio does provide some support to victims’ families, but it varies greatly among Ohio’s 88 counties. Fix that.
The concern isn’t just that the combination of drugs still may be flawed. It goes to the state neglecting so many of the proposed improvements. In that way, Summit County would do well to keep moving forward and adopt those recommendations it can on its own.
It’s been more than three years since Ohio last executed a convicted killer. Unfortunately, the state is poised to resume the barbaric practice next week despite serious questions over respect for constitutional protections and the basic fairness of how the state administers the capital punishment system itself.
To be asked to carry out an execution as part of your job is an extraordinarily difficult experience. I know this because my husband of 44 years, Terry Collins, was placed in this position many times throughout his career, including as director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. Each of the 33 executions he oversaw took a tremendous toll on him.
As two former Ohio attorneys general of different political parties, one who supports the death penalty in certain cases, and one who does not, we strongly believe that Ohio should not execute again until important safeguards are in place. Unless the governor or a court intervenes, Ohio is scheduled to resume executions on July 26, after a three-and-a-half-year hiatus.
Many conservatives of faith like me are deeply concerned about Ohio’s plan to restart executions later this month. We question the fairness, accuracy and cost of our state’s death penalty — a problematic government policy that metes out life and death. How can we trust our government to get it right every single time when the facts show otherwise?