The prolonged execution of Dennis McGuire an inmate in Ohio, in which he repeatedly gasped and snorted, was cruel and unusual punishment which should not be tolerated, the inmate’s family said in a federal lawsuit.  The lawsuit, filed Friday, also alleges that the drug maker that produced the new execution drugs illegally allowed them to be used and should be prohibited from making capital punishment drugs.

McGuire “repeated cycles of snorting, gurgling and arching his back, appearing to writhe in pain,” the lawsuit said, “It looked and sounded as though he was suffocating.”

McGuire’s execution lasted an unusual 26 minutes, the longest since the state resumed executing inmates in 1999, according to an Associated Press analysis of all 53 execution logs maintained by the Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction.

The A.P. was present at the execution and observed that McGuire appeared to fall unconscious and remain so while gasping and opening and closing his mouth repeatedly.  McGuire’s execution has led to calls for a moratorium on capital punishment in Ohio.

A separate federal lawsuit filed Thursday seeks to stop the March execution of a man in Ohio on the grounds that condemned inmates could be clinically alive for as long as 45 minutes after a time of death is announced.

Attorneys for Gregory Lott, who is scheduled to die March 19, say that Ohio is breaking the law by using drugs without a prescription.  The lawsuit by McGuire’s family targets Lake Forest, Illinois-based Hospira Inc., the manufacturer of the drugs used in McGuire’s execution.  The company knew its drugs were intended for the execution of McGuire, but continued to sell them to Ohio anyway, according to the lawsuit.

Hospira should have known that the drugs “would cause unnecessary and extreme pain and suffering during the execution process,” the lawsuit said.

In 2011, Hospira ended its production of sodium thiopental, a drug used by many states for executions, after it couldn’t guarantee Italy, where its factory is located, that the drug wouldn’t be used for capital punishment.  The company also has prohibited other drugs from being used in executions, and will take the same steps for midazolam and hydromorphone, the drugs used in the McGuire execution, according to a company statement.

Many states have seen a shortage of acceptable execution drugs, due to drug maker concerns, including medical ethics.  Death penalty states who are facing a shortage have turned to controversial methods of execution including never before seen drug combinations, which many say amount to human experimentation and among other constitutional questions.

Other states have begun discussions on bringing back the gas chamber and firing squads, which also have a history of cruel and unusual punishment concerns.

States such as Georgia have outrageously attempted to make capital punishment processes state secrets to ensure that the public and inmates do not know what the state is actually doing to death row inmates.

In addition, recently Texas was accused of forging prescriptions to obtain lethal injection drugs.

  1. JanCorey says:

    Too many people have already been proven to have wrongly-suffered under the Laws which means every execution is likely wrong by some fashion or another.


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