A dozen death row inmates in Ohio just got a temporary reprieve from execution. On Monday, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) announced that it will postpone all executions—originally scheduled to resume in January—until the following year and beyond.
The suspension comes on the heels of the state’s January 2015 lethal injection protocol revision, which requires the use of either thiopental sodium or pentobarbital to put inmates to death. But the largest manufacturers of the drugs are in Europe, and the European Union has banned all companies from exporting them for use in killing inmates. That, combined with other drug makers also deciding not to sell it in the U.S. following pressure from anti-death penalty advocates, has resulted in a shortage. This actually marks Ohio’s second shortage-induced delay; the first was for seven inmates earlier this year. Lethal injection is the only legal method of execution in Ohio.
Per the DRC’s most recent statement:
DRC continues to seek all legal means to obtain the drugs necessary to carry out court ordered executions, but over the past few years it has become exceedingly difficult to secure those drugs because of severe supply and distribution restrictions. The new dates are designed to provide DRC additional time necessary to secure the required execution drugs.
The state previously used a combination of midazolam and hydromorphone. While the Supreme Court ruled this summer that midazolam can legally be used for executions, there have been multiple reports that its use results in painful deaths, including that of Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire.