Thursday, July 21, 2011

Whipsawed or None Dare Call It Torture

  • July 8:  Judge Gregory Frost finds that Ohio's execution practice is so seriously fucked up that it probably violates the equal protection rights of the guys being executed.  So he calls a halt to the execution of Kenneth Smith scheduled for July 20.  The order applies only to Smith, but it's logic applies to everyone facing execution in Ohio.
  • July 13: Attorney General Mike DeWine announces that the state won't appeal Frost's order.  Instead, it will "take that decision and follow it and make revisions and comply with it." Whatever that means.
  • July 20, Morning: Brett Hartman, scheduled to be murdered by the state of Ohio on August 16, asks Judge Frost to halt his execution just like he did Smith's.  And for the same reasons.
  • July 20, Later in the Morning: Parole Board unanimously says that Governor Kasich should deny Hartman's request for clemency.
  • July 20, Afternoon: Frost holds telephone conference with Hartman's lawyers and lawyers from the Attorney General's office.  Hearing on Hartman's motion is scheduled for August 2.
  • July 21: Kasich grants Hartman a reprieve, until November 13, 2012.  The press release calls it a "postponement" and explains that this was forced on the Governor.
    The postponement will give the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction the needed time to implement changes to the execution protocol that were mandated by the judge’s ruling.
Imagine, now, Brett Hartman.  In 2009, he came within a week of execution when he was granted a stay.  This time it's three and a half weeks.  But look at the last 13 days.  And especially the last 36 hours or so.
Albert Camus recognized a piece of it.
What then is capital punishment but the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal's deed, however calculated it may be, can be compared? For there to be an equivalence, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal, who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death on him, and who from that moment onward had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life.
But if Camus understood the horror of waiting, he didn't even imagine the psychosis-inducing cycles of hopes raised and dashed and raised and dashed - even within hours.
Regardless, Hartman gets another 15 months.
Billy Slagle, on the other hand?  The governor's press release sets the stage for him.
At present, the next scheduled execution is that of inmate Billy Slagle on September 20, 2011.
Hartman Reprieve

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