Appeals court hears arguments over Ohio’s execution method

FILE – In this November 2005 file photo, Larry Greene, public information director of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, demonstrates how a curtain is pulled between the death chamber and witness room at the prison in Lucasville, Ohio. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

CINCINNATI (AP) – A federal appeals court is hearing arguments over the constitutionality of Ohio’s new three-drug execution method.

At issue before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Wednesday is the effectiveness of the first drug used in the method, a sedative called midazolam (mih-DAY’-zoh-lam).

Midazolam has been used in problematic executions in Arizona, Arkansas and Ohio in which inmates didn’t appear fully sedated before the second and third drugs took effect.

Lawyers opposing midazolam say it creates an unconstitutional risk of harm to inmates.

The state says the massive doze of 500 milligrams of midazolam is enough to render inmates unconscious. They also say the U.S. Supreme Court previously upheld the drug’s use in Oklahoma in a 2015 case.

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