Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

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.

Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.

Tags: , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 17, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation