Iran, Ohio, and the Question of Executing the Same Person Twice

September 16, 2009

In Iran, in January of this year, a man being stoned to death for adultery managed to survive his ordeal by digging his way out of the pit in which he had been buried.  According to an Amnesty International report, citing Iran’s penal code, “if the condemned person manages to escape from the pit, they will not be stoned again if they had been sentenced after confession.” The man who escaped in January was not stoned again that day, though it is believed he was taken back into custody.

Today, Ohio faces a similar dilemma.  Romell Broom survived the Buckeye state’s attempts to execute him by lethal injection, due to the failure of his executioners to find a useful vein in which to inject the poison.    Does this mean Mr. Broom will no longer face the needle, or will Ohio subject him to a second execution?  It appears that the latter is the case (Ohio Governor Ted Strickland merely granted Mr. Broom a week-long reprieve), although there may be arguments in court that being executed twice would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

Ohio has had these problems before: the execution of Christopher Newton (who “volunteered” to be executed by giving up his appeals) took 90 minutes, and the lethal injection of Joseph Clark took 40.  In both cases, the delay was the result of the inability of the execution team to find suitable veins.

Given that this horrible problem keeps re-occurring, it would be wise for Ohio Governor Ted Strickland to at least declare a moratorium and halt executions in his state.