A Democrat Revs Up Ohio’s Death Machine

Ohio’s execution machine is back in business, with a new boss signing the death warrants. The recently elected governor, Democrat Ted Strickland, presided over his first two lynchings April 24 and May 24, with the lethal injections of James Filiaggi and Christopher Newton, and plans to put another prisoner to death in July.

Following Strickland’s election in November, many opponents of the death penalty felt a sense of confidence. After eight years of Republican Gov. Robert Alphonso Taft II, whose regime executed 24 prisoners, the change appeared to offer an opening for change.

Strickland postured as a pious Methodist minister and former prison psychologist (ironically, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio, the location of the state’s death chamber and scene of a 1993 prisoner rebellion). Shortly after taking office, Strickland placed a short moratorium on executions, saying that he didn’t want to rush into things.

But it turns out, when it comes to the death penalty, our new governor isn’t much different from our old governor. Strickland denied a last-minute appeal in late April and signed Filiagi’s death warrant. In his final statement before the lethal injection induced cardiac arrest, Filiaggi said that while the death penalty was “fine for me,” “there are many innocent prisoners on Ohio’s death row.”

Strickland’s notorious second lynching, that of Christopher Newton in late May, focused international attention and shame on Ohio’s machinery of death. Executioners repeatedly stabbed Newton with the IV needle as they desperately scrambled to find a vein, in a procedure that lasted nearly two hours, the state’s second botched execution in just the past year. The execution was so lengthy, in fact, that it was interrupted at one point to allow Newton to take a restroom break. Strickland commented that “the procedure worked as it was intended to work.”

Never mind that the American Psychological Association, which Strickland is a member of, has a resolution calling for a halt to executions (at least until the “deficiencies” are cleared up). Never mind that the Methodist church opposes all forms of capital punishment and supports abolition.

Never mind that during last year’s botched execution of Ohio prisoner Joe Clark, witnesses heard Clark moaning as he was tortured to death for 90 minutes. Clark asked his executioners, “Can’t you just give me something by mouth to end this?”

Never mind that in early April, a judge ordered a new trial for William Montgomery, on Ohio’s death row for the past 20 years, because his attorneys weren’t given a police report described as “material to the outcome.”

The hypocrisy of Ted Strickland shouldn’t have surprised us. As a member of Congress, he voted for the vile HR 4437 (Sensenbrenner bill) to criminalize undocumented immigrants. And when Bush announced plans to allow a mere 7,000 Iraqi refugees to emigrate to the U.S., Strickland smugly stated that they were not welcome in Ohio.

Like everywhere else, Ohio’s death penalty is barbaric and must be abolished. What’s obvious is that abolition will not come from politicians, no matter from which of the “official” parties. As with all wins for our side, it will be struggle built from below that matters. The time is ripe to advance this struggle.

PATRICK DYER contributes to the Socialist Worker newspaper and lives in Toledo, Ohio.



More articles by:

March 21, 2019
Daniel Warner
And Now Algeria
Renee Parsons
The Supreme Court and Dual Citizenship
Eric Draitser
On Ilhan Omar, Assad Fetishism, and the Danger of Red-Brown “Anti-Imperialism”
Elizabeth Keyes
Broadway’s “Hamilton” and the Willing Suspension of Reality-Based Moral Consciousness
David Underhill
Optional Fatherhood Liberates Christians From Abortion Jihad
Nick Pemberton
Is Kamala Harris the Centrist We Need?
Dean Baker
The Wall Street Bailouts, Bernie and the Washington Post
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Blackout
William Astore
America’s Senior Generals Find No Exits From Endless War
Jeff Hauser – Eleanor Eagan
Boeing Debacle Shows Need to Investigate Trump-era Corruption
Ramzy Baroud
Uniting Fatah, Not Palestinians: The Dubious Role of Mohammed Shtayyeh
Nick Licata
All Southern States are Not the Same: Mississippi’s Challenge
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Sly Encouragement of Lawless Violence
Cesar Chelala
Public Health Challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean
March 20, 2019
T.J. Coles
Countdown to “Full Spectrum Dominance”
W. T. Whitney
Re-Targeting Cuba: Why Title III of U.S. Helms-Burton Act will be a Horror Show
Kenneth Surin
Ukania’s Great Privatization Heist
Howard Lisnoff
“Say It Ain’t So, Joe:” the Latest Neoliberal from the War and Wall Street Party
Walter Clemens
Jailed Birds of a Feather May Sing Together
George Ochenski
Failing Students on Climate Change
Cesar Chelala
The Sweet Smell of Madeleine
Binoy Kampmark
Global Kids Strike
Nicky Reid
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?: Requiem for a Fictional Party
Elliot Sperber
Empedocles and You and Me 
March 19, 2019
Paul Street
Socialism Curiously Trumps Fascism in U.S. Political Threat Reporting
Jonah Raskin
Guy Standing on Anxiety, Anger and Alienation: an Interview About “The Precariat”
Patrick Cockburn
The Brutal Legacy of Bloody Sunday is a Powerful Warning to Those Hoping to Save Brexit
Robert Fisk
Turning Algeria Into a Necrocracy
John Steppling
Day of Wrath
Robin Philpot
Truth, Freedom and Peace Will Prevail in Rwanda
Victor Grossman
Women Marchers and Absentees
Binoy Kampmark
The Dangers of Values: Brenton Tarrant, Fraser Anning and the Christchurch Shootings
Jeff Sher
Let Big Pharma Build the Wall
Jimmy Centeno
Venezuela Beneath the Skin of Imperialism
Jeffrey Sommers – Christopher Fons
Scott Walker’s Failure, Progressive Wisconsin’s Win: Milwaukee’s 2020 Democratic Party Convention
Steve Early
Time for Change at NewsGuild?
March 18, 2019
Scott Poynting
Terrorism Has No Religion
Ipek S. Burnett
Black Lives on Trial
John Feffer
The World’s Most Dangerous Divide
Paul Cochrane
On the Ground in Venezuela vs. the Media Spectacle
Dean Baker
The Fed and the 3.8 Percent Unemployment Rate
Thomas Knapp
Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark
Binoy Kampmark
Death in New Zealand: The Christchurch Shootings
Mark Weisbrot
The Reality Behind Trump’s Venezuela Regime Change Coalition
Weekend Edition
March 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Is Ilhan Omar Wrong…About Anything?