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April 28, 2008

The state-specific realities of post-Baze execution timelines

This new local AP article from Ohio highlights that each death penalty state is going to move at its own pace concerning when and how to try to move forward with lethal injection executions after Baze.  Here are some excerpts from the piece:

Ohio officials have been less swift and less aggressive than leaders from some other states at moving to restart executions after a U.S. Supreme Court decision ended a seven-month national pause to killing inmates.

Ohio, which not long ago had one of the nation's busiest death chambers, is led by a governor who has said he is not comfortable with the death penalty and top law enforcement officer who has said he thinks "we can do better" in applying it.  Gov. Ted Strickland has the power to cancel or delay death sentences, and Attorney General Marc Dann's office fights against death row inmates' appeals.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court decided April 16 to allow Kentucky's lethal injection process that is similar to the one used in Ohio and many others, states including Texas and Mississippi already have scheduled executions.  And governors in states such as Florida have said the execution process should now resume.  Ohio has not set any execution dates yet, and top officials have made no public requests for quick action....

After the Supreme Court decision came out, this is what Strickland said about applying it to Ohio: "You would just think that because the methodology is quite similar that the legal outcome would be similar as well. But I just don't want to make that assumption without having a little deeper understanding about what they said."

Contrast that with what Charlie Crist, the Republican governor of Florida, said when praising the court's ruling: "Justice delayed is justice denied, and an awful lot of families of the victims have been waiting for justice to be done, and so that's certainly an important factor." Crist said he asked his lawyers to provide him with death warrants to consider signing, after which execution dates would follow.

Ohio has 184 inmates on death row, many of them exhausting their final appeals.  Three death-row inmates are likely to be among the first set for execution: Clarence Carter, Kenneth Biros and Richard Cooey, who lost what may be his final appeal last week.  Only Texas had more executions in 2006 and 2007 combined than Ohio, which tied with Oklahoma at seven.  Ohio has executed 26 inmates since it resumed executions in 1999.

Some related post-Baze posts:

April 28, 2008 at 09:23 AM | Permalink


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Tracked on Apr 30, 2008 1:13:12 AM


Contrast that with what Charlie Crist, the Republican governor of Florida, said when praising the court's ruling: "Justice delayed is justice denied, and an awful lot of families of the victims have been waiting for justice to be done, and so that's certainly an important factor."

A survey of these families would be interesting. How many families of death row's victims actually support the death penalty? That could be the first question. Second, how many are depending on the state to carry out the execution so they can experience closure? Third, for those families where the accused was executed, did they experience closure?

In short, do politicians put words in their mouths?

Posted by: George | Apr 28, 2008 10:10:23 AM

FYI, Doug, since when executions resume most of them will inevitably occur in Texas, we're still waiting on the Court of Criminal Appeals to rule on the Chi case, which they accepted two weeks after they acquiesced in the de facto Baze moratorium. Supposedly Texas' post-Baze execution standards will be presented in that ruling, whenever it comes.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Apr 28, 2008 10:21:25 AM

Ohio's reticence can be attributed to the fact that a lot of Ohio inmates are in front of Judge Frost. Plus, and this is, of course, not criticism of the more aggressive approach, it does no one any good to set dates that will not happen. Cooey and Biros, both convicted of appalling crimes, will likely make the world a better place with their exits at the end of the summer.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 28, 2008 10:26:32 AM


I don't know who Judge Frost is. Are you saying that he is a liberal who will attempt to delay executions?

Posted by: justice seeker | Apr 28, 2008 10:54:55 AM

A bunch of Ohio DR inmates have filed claims under Section 1983 challenging the constitutionality of Ohio's lethal injection procedure. These cases are being heard by Judge Frost. I don't know whether Frost is a liberal, but having read some of his handiwork in the case, I can say with certainty that Judge Frost is a pretty dim bulb.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 28, 2008 11:25:24 AM

Add arbitrary and capricious to cruel and unusual -- not that that's anything new.

Posted by: | Apr 28, 2008 11:27:11 AM

Some victims' families may be against the death penalty while others may vote for the death by a thousand cuts. I think George should be careful about what he wishes for.

Thankfully, the US justice system is designed through a democratic process and not decided solely by victims' families.

Posted by: realist | Apr 28, 2008 1:10:46 PM

"a pretty dim bulb"
"I disagree with him."

Posted by: DEJ | Apr 28, 2008 3:32:31 PM

Au contraire, DEJ. I disagree with Stephen Reinhardt, but would never say he's a dim bulb. This guy, Frost, has written some pretty silly stuff. His "analysis" of fault for a delay in the proceedings was particularly bad. I don't have access any more to his memoranda, else I would be more specific.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 28, 2008 4:12:33 PM

"Ohio, which not long ago had one of the nation's busiest death chambers"

You would think they were reviewing a trendy restaurant.

Posted by: S.cotus | Apr 28, 2008 5:11:59 PM

realist, the question is politicians being ventriloquists for so-called victims (since they aren't the murdered). I call for a vote. Never mind that the ancient Greeks allegedly silenced the Furies and their deaths of a thousand cuts at the conception of our form of government. Be that as it may or may not, our democratic process would prevent them from forcefully removing these animals from their cells and administering the deaths of a thousand cuts, and we could learn if politicians are full of it or not.

Posted by: George | Apr 28, 2008 8:27:28 PM

In case anyone doubted if politicians were full of it.

Ex-prosecutor calls war tribunals tainted

"There was that consistent theme that if we didn't get this thing rolling before the election, it was going to implode," Davis testified in the courtroom at the Guantanamo naval base in Cuba. "Once you got the victim families energized and the cases rolling, whoever won the White House would have difficulty stopping the proceeding."

Posted by: George | Apr 29, 2008 3:30:02 PM

I seriously doubt that anyone really believes that execution is really necessary for closure. From what I've seen, long prison sentences are actually much more likely to result in closure for the family than a death sentence because a sentence of death serves as vengence and thus prevents any sort of possible forgiveness which is often necessary for one to achieve closure. It seems very dishonest for politicians to essentially use the family members of murder victims to achieve their political agenda. It also does not serve families to tell them that only execution serves the means of justice. Life in Prison without the possibility of parole serves the exact same purpose as execution and it is actually more likely for the families to achieve real closure if the case does not constantly achieve media attention. It seems that far from being concerned about the victims, the pro death penalty crowd is more concerned about keeping people from thinking about crime in a rational manner.

I wonder if Charlie Crist considers himself a Christian given that his statement totally contradicts Christian theology regarding the nessecity to forgive to achieve closure.

Posted by: Zack | Apr 30, 2008 10:49:02 AM

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