Ohio has taken a major step towards abolishing the death sentence in the state. Both chambers of the Ohio state legislature have now passed bills that would end capital punishment after years of debate.
Since over ten sessions, legislative proposals to abolish the death penalty have been introduced. It appears that the campaign is finally gaining traction.
The proposed legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by a bipartisan group of legislators backed up by religious organizations and other policy groups. A bill has already been introduced in the Senate.
Bipartisan Ohio state representatives will reintroduce a bill on September 6, 2023, that would abolish the death penalty. The punishment would be replaced with life imprisonment without parole. Ohio legislators have been debating the use of capital punishment for almost a decade. This renewed effort follows the introduction of Senate Bill 101 by state senators earlier this year.
The Ohio House bill to end Ohio’s death penalty officially has a number: HB 259! This bill is a companion to SB 101.
— Jessica Dickinson (@JessCDickinson) September 13, 2023
The Republican Attorney General Dave Yost is opposed to the bills.
Ohio Republican Attorney-General Dave Yost has not yet endorsed the latest bipartisan effort to end the death sentence in the state.
Recently, a bipartisan group of legislators, together with religious groups and policy groups from across the state, announced their plan to introduce legislation at the House of Representatives that would ban the death sentence.
But Yost is not convinced.
Yost stated that “Bad Ideas do not become Good Ideas simply because our two broken political parties agree about it.”
The Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association also opposes the end of capital punishment in Ohio.
Louis Tobin is the executive director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association. He said that sometimes the death penalty was the only thing justice demanded. “There is no better example of why the death penalty is needed than the tragic event that occurred in Clermont County, Ohio earlier this year when three children were brutally killed by their father.
Tobin acknowledged that the death sentence in its current form does not deter criminals, but said it is an “ultimate responsibility” for victims, the community, and the state.
“I believe that prosecutors unanimously agree that the death penalty can be appropriate at times,” Tobin stated that there are times when the death penalty is necessary.
Ohio’s final execution took place in July 2018. 31 prisoners are scheduled to be executed in the future. Yost’s office published a report this year that showed an inmate spends on average 21 years on death row.
The state pays five times as much for capital than noncapital cases. This is an argument conservatives use against the death sentence. The report revealed that the practice was not implemented fairly and this has led to distrust of the system.
Republicans were instrumental in getting bills introduced. Demetrius Major, National Manager of Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty stated that this “shows conservatives are going to be the pivotal group who’s going help us get a repeal bill for the death penalty across the finish line.”
He said: “We’re gaining momentum among conservatives and the trend that conservatives are questioning capital punishment is moving in the right direction.”
The future of the death penalty in Ohio hangs in the balance as the debate continues. Actions could change the criminal justice system in Ohio for many years.