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Legal Daily News Feature

Botched Ohio Execution Spurs Actions for Mandatory Training of Prison Officials
By Christine Cristiano In court filings, attorneys for several inmates on death row argued that if prison officials were properly trained, the botched execution of Romell Broom in Ohio on September 15, 2009 could have been prevented.

01/15/10 Broom, 53, was sentenced to death row after being convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing 14 year-old Tryna Middleton in 1984. According to court documents, the 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. The filings reveal that one of the individuals who was responsible for helping with the execution of Mr. Broom, failed to attend the execution rehearsals and was not adequately trained. According to court documents filed in Federal District Court in Columbus, the employee in question is a licensed emergency medical technician, does not regularly establish IVs and was out of practice at the time of Mr. Brooms attempted execution. During his scheduled execution, Broom was repeatedly stuck with a needle for nearly two hours by prison officials in an attempt to locate a usable vein to inject the prescribed lethal serum that would facilitate his death. After the failed attempt, Gov. Ted Strickland ordered that the execution be halted. Adele Shank, one of lawyers for Mr. Broom, commented that if prison staff [were] appropriately trained, and if prison officials followed protocol, they might have avoided the sort of cruel and unconstitutional treatment that Mr. Broom faced. Shank added that she will try to prevent the state from going forward with her clients execution. According to Shank, the state got their chance with Mr. Broom. They failed to execute him, and, in the process, they violated his constitutional right to avoid cruel and unusual punishment. So we are arguing it would be further cruelty for them to try again.

Due to pending litigation, state prison officials have not commented on the Brooms botched execution but said that the states new protocols are effective and not painful. Attorneys presenting other death row inmates have said that they are hopeful that all executions in Ohio will be stopped until the states execution protocols were brought up to constitutional standards and there were better guarantees that these protocols would be followed. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the three-drug cocktail Kentucky used in executions, thus rejecting claims that it posed an unconstitutional risk of a condemned inmates suffering acute yet undetectable pain. However, according to Ohio death row lawyer, Allen L. Bohnert, the decision by the Supreme Court that the three-drug cocktail was constitutional was based on the faulty assumption that states followed protocol, when in Ohio, that was proving not to be true. Mr. Bohnert noted that in another failed execution attempt of Daniel Wilson in June, state prison officials ignored the requirement that they conduct three reviews of the inmates veins shortly before the execution to ensure that they had accessible veins. According to filings, last summer, prison officials also failed to establish two functional IV sites before starting the execution as required during the execution of Marvallous Keene. Also in the filings, during Brooms scheduled execution, state officials summoned a doctor to help locate a usable vein even though the doctor didnt receive the required training to participate in Brooms execution. This past November, Ohio became the first state to declare that it would switch its death penalty procedure from a threedrug cocktail to a single drug for the purpose of execution.


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Legal Daily News Feature According to critics, a single drug injection is more humane for lethal injection than the traditional three drug cocktail which initially renders the inmate unconscious, followed by paralysis and then finally stopping the heart.

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