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No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution

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Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. The state shouldn't get a second chance.
The pathos and problems of America's death penalty were vividly on display yesterday when Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. Immediately after its failure Gov. John Kasich set June 5, 2019, as a new execution date.
This plan for a second execution reveals a glaring inadequacy in the legal standards governing botched executions in the United States.
Campbell was tried and sentenced to die for murdering 18-year-old Charles Dials during a carjacking in 1997. After Campbell exhausted his legal appeals, he was denied clemency by the state parole board and the governor.
By the time the state got around to executing Campbell, he was far from the dangerous criminal of 20 years ago. As is the case with many of America's death-row inmates, the passage of time had inflicted its own punishments.
The inmate Ohio strapped onto the gurney was a 69-year-old man afflicted with serious ailm…

Ohio: Alva Campbell will get wedge-shaped pillow for execution; his death could become a “spectacle”

Alva Campbell
Ohio death row inmate Alva Campbell will get wedge-shaped pillow for execution. Campbell wanted firing squad, not lethal injection.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio will provide a wedge-shaped pillow to help a condemned inmate breathe as he’s being executed this week, among other accommodations the state is considering.

Death row prisoner Alva Campbell, who has said he is too ill for lethal injection, became mildly agitated when officials tried lowering him to a normal execution position, according to a medical review by a physician contractor for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Dr. James McWeeney noted there were no objective findings such as increased pulse rate or breathing to corroborate Campbell’s anxiety. Nevertheless, he recommended allowing Campbell to lie “in a semi-recumbent position” during the execution.

The same exam failed to find veins suitable for inserting an IV on either of Campbell’s arms.

Campbell, 69, has severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder as the result of a decades-long two-pack-a-day smoking habit, the doctor said.

The prisoner’s attorneys say he uses a walker, relies on a colostomy bag, requires four breathing treatments a day and may have lung cancer. They have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop Wednesday’s execution, because of his poor health, a motion opposed by the state.

A "spectacle"


The attorneys have warned that Campbell’s death could become a “spectacle” if guards are unable to find suitable veins in the sick inmate’s arms.

Earlier this month Campbell lost a bid to be executed by firing squad after a federal judge questioned whether lawmakers would enact the bill needed to allow the method.

Prisons department spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said Monday that Campbell’s “medical condition and history are being assessed and considered in order to identify any necessary accommodations or contingencies for his execution.”

Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien calls Campbell “the poster child for the death penalty.”

"Ohio's planned execution of Alva Campbell is an international embarrassment. Alva is very ill. He is suffering with cancer, COPD, emphysema, and a whole host of other ailments. Over the past two years, Alva's prostate and colon have been surgically removed due to infections and his hip was replaced after another prisoner knocked him over. He is not able to walk or breathe without assistance. Prison officials have worked hard to come up with makeshift "accommodations" for Alva's physical limitations. He will be rolled into the death chamber in a wheelchair and propped up by a special pillow in a seated position during the lethal injection process. There's also the fact that Alva is allergic to midazolam, the first drug in Ohio's killing cocktail. The state plans to use it anyway. Governor John Kasich: You have the power to stop this barbarism. Please use it." - Sister Helen Prejean, author of "Dead Man Walking"

Prosecutors say his health claims are ironic given he faked paralysis to escape court custody the day he killed a teenager during a carjacking.

Campbell was paroled in 1992 after serving 20 years for killing a man in a Cleveland bar. On April 2, 1997, Campbell was in a wheelchair when he overpowered a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy on the way to a court hearing on several armed robbery charges, records show.

Campbell took the deputy’s gun, carjacked 18-year-old Charles Dials and drove around with him for several hours before shooting him twice in the head as Dials crouched in the footwell of his own truck, according to court records.

Campbell was regularly beaten, sexually abused and tortured as a child, his attorneys have argued in court filings and before the Ohio Parole Board.

Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich rejected mercy for Campbell last week.

Source: The Associated Press, Andrew Welsh-Huggins, November 13, 2017


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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