Romell Broom, 52, was given a rare one-week reprieve when officials struggled for hours to find a vein strong enough to handle lethal injection. The scene was particularly grotesque for critics of the death penalty as Broom awaited his death for hours as he was pricked and probed. Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland eventually ordered the one-week delay to allow prison officials time to figure out the best vein to use to execute him.
Broom was convicted of raping and fatally stabbing a 14-year-old girl in East Cleveland, Ohio, in 1984. Broom reportedly tried to help the prison staff find a vein in his own execution.
The defense moved quickly when Broom’s lawyer in prison, Adele Shank (a particularly apt name for a prisoner lawyer), notified co-counsel Tim Sweeney that they could not find a vein at the Lucasville facility. They did an excellent job in moving to seek a termination of the procedure.
For some, this brings up memories of problems in May 2006 when Ohio officials took 90 minutes to find a vein in the execution of Joseph Clark, who was heard pleading with the officials “It don’t work.”
Then in 2007, officials in Ohio took two hours to find a vein for Christopher Newton’s execution.
These botched executions are often cited as magnifying the cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. However, courts have rejected such claims in the past and find that the state cannot anticipate every eventuality. Yet, Ohio’s persistent difficulties raise some question as to whether the state is less competent in executions or whether other states are less careful. The possibility of a vein not functioning fully can cause a horrific outcome where the inmate is not fully sedated and not given sufficient lethal doses to ensure rapid death.
I have previously written about the problem associated with lethal injection, here.
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