Originally published March 4, 2020

The death penalty is a failed public policy. The Ohio Justice & Policy Center is eager for the advancement of a new, bipartisan Ohio Senate bill that would end the practice of executions in our state.

State Sen. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) announced the bill Wednesday morning, but said it will be formally introduced in coming weeks. State Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) will be a joint sponsor of the bill, and Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) will be a co-sponsor.

Supporters of the bill and statewide death penalty abolition — including nonprofits and faith groups — spoke at a press conference with Antonio. You can watch video from the press conference here

OJPC Policy Director Kevin Werner is one of several supporters who spoke at the press conference.

“Ohio’s death penalty system is fundamentally broken, unworkable and unnecessary,” Werner said. “We have four decades’ worth of data that are clearly telling us it is time to turn the page on the death penalty.”

Before joining the staff at OJPC, Werner spent 12 years as executive director of Ohioans to Stop Executions.

Werner highlighted data* that illustrated the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the death penalty, including:

  • In Jan. 2021, the ACLU and Ohioans to Stop Executions released data in which 59 percent of Ohioans polled were in favor of ending the death penalty.
    • 59% of households with a member employed in criminal justice are supportive of a death penalty repeal.
    • 69 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Republicans support death penalty repeal, according to the ACLU/OTSE polling.
  • For every 6 executions in Ohio, one person has been exonerated.
  • A death penalty case costs ten times the amount of a non-capital case to try in Ohio.
  • Nine in ten death penalty cases in Ohio do not produce the state’s intended outcome.
  • For every 6 executions in Ohio, one person has been exonerated.
  • A Gallup poll from Oct. 2019 found that 60 percent of Americans prefer life sentences.
  • Ohio currently has 136 prisoners on death row.
  • Common characteristics among Ohio’s death row prisoners include a history of poverty, trauma, physical and sexual abuse, addiction; and the vast majority of death row prisoners are convicted of killing white women.

*Data attributed to Ohioans to Stop Executions and the Death Penalty Information Center.

“Ohio, like many other states, thought it could design a capital punishment system that was capable of being fair and accurate,” Werner said. “We thought adequate safeguards were in place to ensure the death penalty would be rare, effective and free of any arbitrariness, bias or constitutional questions. That was then, and this is now… By any metric, the death penalty is a failed public policy.”

Learn more about OJPC’s policy reform efforts here.