COLUMBUS, Ohio – The state will change its lethal injection process to help prevent problems like last month's struggle to find a vein in a condemned man's arm, leading the man to ask that officials find another way to kill him, according to a report issued Wednesday.
Execution teams will make every effort to find two injection sites and will use a new method to make sure the veins stay open once entryways are inserted, prisons Director Terry Collins told Gov. Bob Taft in the report.
The review was prompted by the execution of Joseph Clark that was delayed about 90 minutes when staff had problems finding a viable vein and one vein they did use collapsed.
The execution drew criticism from death penalty opponents who said the problems illustrated why the method of capital punishment is cruel, and it came amid a growing national debate over lethal injection.
Clark, 57, who killed a gas station attendant during a robbery, continued to move during the initial injection attempt and then finally pushed himself up and said, "It don't work."
The execution team will now establish a low-pressure saline drip to test whether the vein being used for the lethal injection is open and continues to be useable, instead of using a high-pressure saline injection with a syringe, according to the report.
The practice of evaluating the inmate before the execution also will be changed from a visual observation to include as many as three hands-on evaluations during the night before and morning of the execution. The evaluations will be used to determine if any potential problems exist and what could be done to reduce their effect, the report said.
Prison staff will be advised that they have no requirement to complete the execution within a certain timeframe, the report said.
"Our current practice has created an artificial self-imposed time barrier resulting in enormous pressure on the execution team members. Allowing this expectation has caused staff to believe they must act quickly, contributing to the difficulty of the task," the report said.
The changes will be in place for Ohio's next execution scheduled for July 12.