U.S. Death Penalty: Botched Executions And Suicide Attempts

Billy Slagle died in a holding cell, like the one in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility featured here, three days before the state of Ohio was to execute him (Photo Credit: Mike Simons/Getty Images).

Billy Slagle died in a holding cell, like the one in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility featured here, three days before the state of Ohio was to execute him (Photo Credit: Mike Simons/Getty Images).

Back in 2010, the cruelty – and absurdity – of the death penalty was on full display when Brandon Rhode tried to commit suicide just days before he was to be executed by the state of Georgia. The state rushed him to the hospital and saved his life – only to execute him a week later.

The suicide attempt reportedly left Rhode brain damaged. He was shackled to a restraint chair for the next 7 days, and then the execution proceeded. The lethal injection may have been botched, as Rhode’s eyes remained open the entire time.

This weekend, Billy Slagle was found hanged in his cell on Ohio’s death row. Slagle died three days before the state of Ohio was to execute him. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has promised a “complete investigation.”

These appalling episodes should be enough to convince Ohio, Georgia, and the other 30 capital punishment states, that it is long past time to get out of the execution business.

The man who prosecuted Billy Slagle had tried to have his sentence commuted, without success. Slagle committed his brutal crime 26 years ago when he was just 18 years old, and had been, in the words of his attorney, “exposed to alcohol from the womb to the crime.” (Brandon Rhode had also committed his crime at 18 after a childhood of exposure to alcohol and drug abuse.)

Ohio, of course, is the state that in 2009, notoriously failed it its attempt to execute Romell Broom, trying for two miserable hours – and at times, with Broom’s assistance – to find a vein in which to inject the lethal drugs.

Romell Broom is still alive, Brandon Rhode was executed, and Billy Slagle died before he could be put to death. All were convicted of terrible crimes and were then subjected to shameful cruelties. There is no good reason why it has to be this way. These appalling episodes ought to be enough to convince Ohio, Georgia, and the other 30 capital punishment states, that it is long past time to get out of the execution business.

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10 thoughts on “U.S. Death Penalty: Botched Executions And Suicide Attempts

  1. US has several shameful apects that renders it uncivilised & barbaric. The routine execution & torture of prisoners (on a par with Iran, China & several Aftican countries)..The despicable way it treats its own poor citizens, & its constant international war mongering…

  2. In lieu of ending the death penalty, give all condemned felons the option of assisted suicide. This option should also be made available to all those sentenced to life without parole.

  3. I love this stuff. As a criminal justice instructor I use death penalty cases as a great teaching tool. As for amnesty international and the death penalty abolition movement, thank goodness there are voices that believe that I'm supposed to pay for keeping these miserable humans alive. I like the idea of persons who support the worst of the worst. They all get what they deserve in the end. Keep up the good work. We in Ohio will do the same.

    • Studies have proven that it costs more to execute a prisoner (with the appeals process) than it does to keep them locked up for the rest of their lives. The other problem with the death penalty is the increasing number of cases where new procedures (DNA testing), proof of prosecutorial misconduct and the growing lack of faith in eye witness ID have resulted in the release of innocent defendants after years of incarceration or stays on Death Row. A simple 'My bad, we killed the wrong person" is not enough to square the tables.

  4. Great post – short, sharp and perfectly exposes the mockery of humanity that is the death penalty.

  5. Wow! What a waste of taxpayer dollars.There have been so many studies done that prove the death penalty is not a deterrent for criminals – they don't believe they are going to get caught to begin with. How is it that Brandon Rhode could be executed when he was in such a condition? Isn't that against the supreme courts ruling?? Enough of the old school, men's club eye for an eye – it's time to realize that our prison system doesn't work very well. How about we actually try rehabilitation? Try not treating all criminals as animals – wouldn't it be a shock to find the recidivism rates go down, we wouldn't have to worry about over-crowding. Thank you for bringing to light these three stories. Let's hope those in power hear how we feel about the death penalty and they finally abolish it for good.

  6. if people are willing to commit the crime then they should suffer their victims did but they didn't care so why should we

  7. Stop playing God. In the end, He will judge & determine our fate. Abolish the death penalty! It's barbaric & archaic & needs to stop!

  8. I disagree completely. I think the death penalty is a good thing. We need something to help deter some of the more heinous crimes. Recent research has proven that it does help deter some criminals. And those that it doesn't deter should die for what they did. If you have a serial killer who killed 20+ people, including children, and the police catch him (it's usually men who are serial killers) with proof that he is the guy. DNA evidence, finger prints, murder weapon, blood, treasures taken from the victims, and even a confession because some serial killers want to own up to what they did for the publicity and so no one else can claim their murders, then don't you think that they should be put to death? If you don't then you're worse than the serial killer in my eyes. You're letting a monster stay alive just because of SOME mistakes in SOME states. Giving them life in prison gives them time to find a way to break out, which happens more often than one would think. It's just disgusting that people would even think that it's ok for them to have to pay for someone to stay alive in prison for their entire life. If the serial killer was 25 when he committed these murders, he could have another 55+ years of life easily. They have access to the infirmary, 3 meals a day, a bed to sleep on, hell they have more freedom than most people do. Oh and I forgot…they also get the same amount of appeals that those on death row have. You all forget that aspect. You'll still be paying for their appeals. Every single argument AGAINST the death penalty can be shot down because most of it is the same as that on life in prison. Just sit back and think about those killers who killed kids, if one of your own children had died because of a sadistic killer, wouldn't you want retribution? If you say you wouldn't then you're just lying to yourself and to everyone here.