The state of Ohio plans to execute convicted killer Mark Wiles on Wednesday, ending an unofficial ban on the practice that lasted all of six months. Wiles will be executed by lethal injection for murdering a 15-year-old boy during a robbery of a farmhouse in 1985. He will be the 47th person executed in Ohio since the state resumed the death penalty in 1999.
For the last several years, the state has been involved in legal battles, not over the idea of capital punishment, but the way it has been carried out. Several inmates sued over the procedures used after a botched 2009 execution when an inmate was stuck with a needle 18 times. The state has revised its method several times under accusations that it was unnecessarily painful, though a federal judge has accused the state of not following its own procedures properly. U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost halted all executions for six months last summer, but after allowing an execution in November, Frost once again criticized the officials for deviating from the procedures and ordered a halt to them until the process could be reviewed some more. However, he ruled two weeks ago that the Wiles execution could go forward.
The delay did hold up two other scheduled executions — one in January and one in February — but the gap of six months would hardly have been an unusual one. In most years during the last decade, the state has only seen three or four execution per year. However, there are now 12 prisoners with scheduled execution dates by the end of 2013 (more than any other state) showing no signs that Ohio plans to slow down the process. Two state Senators proposed a ban on the practice last month, shortly before Connecticut's became the fifth state in five years to abolish capital punishment, but the bill has not been brought to a vote.