Ohio can now resume carrying out executions for the first time since November 2011, after a ruling last week from U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost of Newark.
In January, Frost halted the Ohio execution of condemned murderer Charles Lorraine in light of several slip-ups by the state in following its own execution protocol. On Feb. 8, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Frost’s decision, ruling that the number of documented failures to follow procedure were enough to place an official moratorium on executions.
The failures to follow protocol were reportedly mostly minor paperwork technicalities, including not properly documenting that an inmate’s medical files were reviewed and switching the official whose job it was to announce the start and finish times of the lethal injection.
The state argued that the errors were minor and didn’t legitimately affect the state’s ability to carry out humane executions.
Frost, however, expressed frustration at the state’s failure to follow codes it had set itself. “Ohio has been in a dubious cycle of defending often indefensible conduct, subsequently reforming its protocol when called on that conduct, and then failing to follow through on its own reforms,” Frost wrote in his January ruling.
Frost’s ruling means that the state will move forward with the April 18 execution of Mark Wiles, who was found guilty for stabbing a 15-year-old boy to death in 1985. Frost recently denied Wiles’ request for a stay of execution. Although his ruling sided with the state, Frost seemed somewhat wary of the state’s promises to reform.
Since the moratorium, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has allegedly scrutinized its procedural policies and implemented a new “Incident Command System.”
“This court is therefore willing to trust Ohio just enough to permit the scheduled execution,” Frost wrote regarding his rejection of Wiles’ stay of execution. “The court reaches this conclusion with some trepidation given Ohio’s history of telling this court what (they) think they need to say in order to conduct executions and then not following through on promised reforms.”
To date, Ohio has executed 386 convicted murderers.