Lethal Injection Round Up: Executions by Single Shot

By Kamika Dunlap on January 21, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Lately, FindLaw's Blotter has reported on several posts about Ohio's switch to a new single shot lethal injection.

The state recently transitioned to a single drug, rather than a three drug cocktail in its death penalty procedures. With other states still using the three drug cocktail, all eyes are now on how the single shot method will work in Ohio.

In December, Ken Biros became the first person in the U.S. to die by lethal injection with a single shot drug. Since then, Vernon Smith was the second death row inmate executed using a single shot lethal injection.

But as the New York Times reports, litigation over lethal injection has not gone away in Ohio even though the state has switched to a one-drug execution protocol.

As previously discussed, the state adopted a new single shot protocol after a botched execution of death row inmate Romell Broom. He is now fighting Ohio's second attempt to execute him.

According to the New York Times, lawyers argue in court filings that proper training of prison officials could have prevented Romell Broom's botched execution. In addition, filings contend that Ohio prison officials have shown a consistent disregard for their own rules in carrying out executions, including failing to ensure that execution staff members attend required rehearsals and training.

Other states, including Maryland and Nebraska, are currently undertaking a review of their execution protocols.

So, how does a single shot lethal injection work?

The single drug protocol according to the New York Times uses a "massive dose of an anesthetic. If that fails, prison officials will then inject two chemicals -- midazolam and hydromorphone -- directly into the inmate's muscles."

Critics have long argued that using a single drug, the preferred method in animal euthanasia, is more humane than the three-drug cocktail.

Ohio continues to lead the way in single-injection executions.

However, significant progress was made around death penalty work and states considering abolishing executions. A number of them have tweaked their procedures in the last two years but still not enough for new protocols to emerge.

So, as litigation is pending in the case Ohio death row inmate Romell Broom. A judge has limited his legal appeal.

His lawyer's will be limited to a simple argument in proving how Ohio prison officials failed to execute him the first time and to try again would be further cruelty. In doing so, they will touch on how the state's new lethal injection  protocols are effective and not painful.


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