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Thursday, August 15, 2019

GOP Ohio Lawmaker: Put Inmates to Death with Seized Fentanyl

Posted By on Thu, Aug 15, 2019 at 10:48 AM

  • Photo via Ohio House of Representatives
Ohio has struggled recently in finding suitable drugs with which to execute inmates sentenced to death. But one Republican lawmaker believes a solution could be readily available and already in the hands of law enforcement.

State Rep. Scott Wiggam, who represents Wooster and surrounding areas, says he is working on legislation that would allow the state to use fentanyl seized in drug raids for executions. Wiggam says that the powerful synthetic opiate is a more humane way to execute inmates than the electric chair, firing squad or the state's currently-paused three-drug cocktail method, which opponents say causes sensations similar to drowning.

Objections to the use of Midazolam, the drug believed to cause prolonged, possibly painful executions, have led to court battles over Ohio's current death penalty methods.

Late last month, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine paused the state's scheduled executions after drug makers told the state they will cut off all supplies of drugs used for multiple other purposes if the state also uses those drugs to put inmates to death.

Just a small amount of fentanyl is enough to kill a person, and the drug has led to thousands of overdose deaths a year in Ohio. Those on the front lines of the opioid crisis have criticized Wiggam's proposal.

"Not getting into the political debate of the death penalty," Newtown Police Chief and Hamilton County Heroin Coalition Co-Chair Tom Synan tweeted today. "Just tired of fentanyl killing people, it has killed enough. Wish fentanyl never hit the streets. Much rather we find more ways to stop its destruction than to aid its cycle of death."

Some experts point out that the purity and strength of street fentanyl is unpredictable, which could lead to yet more botched executions.

Ohio's last execution took place in July 2018, when the state put Robert Van Hook to death for killing and disemboweling a neighbor.

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