Kenneth Biros Execution Starts Debate on New Method

Thursday, June 13th, 2013 By

Kenneth Biros executed in Ohio

Image from Flickr.

Image from Flickr.

Regardless of the outcome of the debate over a new lethal injection method, the results of the Kenneth Biros execution will remain the same. Convicted murderer Kenneth Biros was executed this morning in Ohio by lethal injection. After 18 years in prison, Biros, 51, told his siblings “Now I am paroled to my father in heaven.”

The family of the woman Biros killed in 1991 made it clear they supported the execution. “We’ve been ready for 18 years,” said a member of Tami Engstrom’s family. Tami was 22 when Biros murdered her. Many people have taken a hard stance as being for or against the death penalty. However, ask most people what they think of the death penalty, and they’ll answer “it depends.”

Arguments regarding the death penalty

A few people look at the death penalty from a financial standpoint. Some say execution is too expensive, while others argue that keeping inmates alive and in jail is more expensive. Some ask whether Americans who are morally opposed to the death penalty should get tax resolution.

A large group of people say that whether the death penalty is warranted depends on the nature of the crime. They believe that if the crime is heinous enough, putting the prisoner to death is acceptable. However, the main debate surrounding the Kenneth Biros execution doesn’t have to do with money or circumstance; it’s about a new method of lethal injection.

Previous problems with lethal injection

A new method of one-drug lethal injection was used on Kenneth Biros, though his lawyers tried to halt his execution by saying that using this new drug amounted to experimentation. The United States Supreme Court refused to intervene. Ohio decided to switch to the one-drug injection after an incident in Ohio a few months ago, when an inmate’s execution was halted after executioners stuck him with needles 18 times trying to find a usable vein.

Death penalty opponents are both praising the one-drug method because it is reportedly less painful and arguing against it because it hasn’t been properly vetted. However, I can imagine it would be difficult to find willing human test subjects for experimenting lethal injections.

Execution is over, case is far from closed

The Kenneth Biros execution, the first execution using the one-drug method, went as planned. Biros died 11 minutes after recieving the injection, roughly the amount of time the three-drug cocktail took to work. Now that the Kenneth Biros execution is over, opponents of changing to a one-drug injection can no longer argue that it hasn’t been tested on humans.

Richard C. Dieter, from the Death Penalty Information Center, says that the key to whether a method of execution is acceptable depends on due process and that the Ohio Legislature should have examined this method more carefully before using it for the Kenneth Biros execution. “In this case, however, everyone has taken the Ohio Department of Corrections at their word, without an adversarial debate,” Dieter said.

A few different groups are looking into whether Ohio’s switch to the one-drug method was constitutional or whether further review is needed before the state can continue using the method.

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