« The big other branch questions after the election | Main | Fanfan's guideline sentence affirmed by First Circuit »

November 8, 2006

Could Ohio and Wisconsin chart a path to a better death penalty?

One of many interest sentencing stories within the election results concerns the future of the death penalty, especially in states outside the deep south.  Specifically, new days may be dawning for the death penalty in two Midwestern states, Ohio and Wisconsin.

As detailed in this article, the new day in Wisconsin results from voters' approval of a non-binding referendum supporting the idea of capital punishment in Wisconsin.  The article explains why this referendum is unlikely to result in a new death penalty law in the near future.  But the referendum does ensure continued discussion of a "modern" death penalty statute in a state with a long anti-death-penalty history.

The story in Ohio is less visible, but no less interesting.  Over the last three years, Ohio has been second only to Texas in the number of executions.  This has partly resulted from Republican state officials pushing hard on post-conviction litigation against the backdrop of a large death row population.  But now, for the first time since Ohio resumed executions in 1999, a Democrat will be Ohio's governor and Ohio's attorney general.  Though I doubt Ohio's new democratic executive branch will seek to undue the death penalty in Ohio, the pace of execution could be greatly influenced by the change in personnel.  Also, there might be new opportunities for death penalty abolitionists in Ohio to join forces with some pro-life Republicans in the state legislature who have previously expressed concerns about state killing (details here).

UPDATE:  Karl Keys has some death-penalty-focused assessments of the election results here at Capital Defense Weekly.  And ODPI here has some very notable quotes concerning the Ohio's death penalty from Ohio's new Attorney General Marc Dann made during an April 2006 debate.

November 8, 2006 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e200d83463484e69e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Could Ohio and Wisconsin chart a path to a better death penalty?:

» Could Ohio and Wisconsin Chart a Path to a Better Death Penalty? from StandDown Texas Project
That's the question Doug Berman asks at Sentencing Law Policy. Given statements by elected officials in Wisconsin (here), a return of capital punishment in that state appears to be nil, but Doug's comments about Ohio might have more resonance. LINKThe [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 8, 2006 11:49:30 AM

Comments

Professor,

I'm curious as to how the change in AG and governor here in Ohio will alter the pace of executions. Are you suggesting that Gov. Strickland will be more likely to grant clemency? Or that AG Dann might take a less agressive stand in defending habeas cases? Don't we really need political change in the county prosecutors' offices (particularly in my home county of Hamilton, where we send a disproportionately high number of defendants to death row) for a change in death penalty litigation, absent legislative action?

Posted by: Donald | Nov 8, 2006 10:26:03 PM

They'd be fools to do it. Why, if you are a Democrat, would you squander goodwill with voters by being nice to killers? It's dumb politics--plain and simple.

Posted by: | Nov 9, 2006 12:04:07 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB