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Courts and Crime

Ohio's former prison chiefs protest Oklahoma execution
Wilkinson and Collins says the executions leave deep psychological scars

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
In The Region:

Two of the men who oversaw Ohio’s prisons – and executions – are among the former corrections officials nationwide who have signed a letter asking for a moratorium on executions in Oklahoma. 

The letter submitted after the botched execution of Clayton Lockett last night says, in part, “A career in corrections prepares one to see many things, but the terrible memories of witnessing executions remain in one's psyche forever.” 

The protest is signed by Reginald Wilkinson, who was director of the Ohio Department or Rehabilitation and Correction for 15 years, and by his successor, Terry Collins, who retired in 2010. 

After their retirements, both men came out publicly in opposition to the death penalty in Ohio.


Here's the letter put out by the Constitution Project:

As former correctional officials and administrators, we are deeply troubled by the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma last night. Our jobs as officers of the law involved carrying out and enforcing punishment within the confines of state and federal law. What appears to have been a horrific death last night certainly does not seem to have been legal or humane. 

Some of the media who witnessed part of the execution appeared to be visibly shaken and disturbed. But the staff whose job it was to administer these drugs and to handle Mr. Lockett's body were surely put through an even more difficult experience.  A career in corrections prepares one to see many things, but the terrible memories of witnessing executions remain in one's psyche forever.  Correctional officers should not have to prepare to witness the horror of a botched execution such as that endured by Mr. Lockett and we can only imagine the emotional toll of this event on the professionals involved in the procedure.

No individual should be asked to carry out an execution using experimental drugs and dosages or without proper training and medical expertise. We cannot know how last night's events happened without a full independent inquiry by a credible, outside third party whose findings should be made public.  And no further executions should be carried out in Oklahoma until Mr. Lockett's death is fully investigated and all the facts are known.


Dr. Allen Ault

Former Commissioner, Georgia, Mississippi, Colorado Departments of Corrections.

Robert Brown, Jr.

Director, Michigan Department of Corrections (1961-1991).

Terry J. Collins

Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (2006-2010); Assistant Director, Ohio

Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (1977-2006). Correctional consultant utilizing 36 years of correctional experience.

Kathleen Dennehy

Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Corrections (2004-2007).

 Steve J. Martin

Corrections Consultant and Attorney; Special Assistant Attorney General, Texas Attorney General (1985-1986); Executive Assistant to the Director (1984-1985), General Counsel (1983-1985), and Legal Counsel (1981-1983), Texas Department of Corrections, Huntsville, Texas; Federal court monitor, remedial decrees involving staff use of force in prisons and jails in the U.S., (1994-present); Expert, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division (1993-2008); Expert, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (2010-present).

Chase Riveland

Former Director, Colorado and Washington Departments of Corrections.

Charles Terrell

Chairman, Texas Department of Criminal Justice (1987-1990); Chairman, Safer Dallas Better Dallas (2006-2012).

Dr. Reginald Wilkinson 

Director (Ret.), Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC), 1991-2006; DRC employee, 1973; Presi­dent, American Correctional Association; Vice Chair for North America, International Corrections and Prison Association; President, Ohio Correctional and Court Services Association; Founder, Ohio chapter, National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice. 

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