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April 6, 2011

Ohio shows again it is the most dynamic (and (dys)functional?) death penalty state

While most of the nation and the world still thinks of Texas as the leading death penalty state in the US, this local article from Ohio spotlights that my home state is continuing to make the case for being the most dynamic and perhaps the most important 21st century death penalty state.  The piece is headlined "Ohio's death sentences in 2010 most since 2003," and here are excerpts:

Already second in the nation in executions, Ohio bucked a national trend last year by sending seven people to Death Row -- the most since 2003....

Since Ohio's death penalty was reinstated in 1981 (after being found unconstitutional three years earlier), Franklin County has sent 18 men to Death Row. Two were executed: William D. Wickline and John Glenn Roe.

In contrast, Hamilton County issued 56 death sentences and Cuyahoga County 52 in the same period. Other counties that issued death sentences: Lucas (21), Summit (18), Mahoning (11) and Montgomery (10).

Nationally, the number of new death sentences has leveled off or declined in recent years.

Ohio has executed 43 killers, including two this year, since resuming capital punishment in 1999. Clarence Carter of Hamilton County is scheduled to be lethally injected next Tuesday. Seven other executions are scheduled this year, and two more have been set for early 2012. Ohio was second in the nation in executions last year, with eight to Texas' 17. Ohio was the only state to increase its number of executions last year.

DeWine's report showed that the sentences of 14 Death Row prisoners have been commuted, beginning with eight clemencies that Gov. Richard F. Celeste granted just before leaving office in 1991. One inmate was spared by Gov. Bob Taft, and five received clemency from Gov. Ted Strickland.

Twenty inmates on Death Row have died in prison of natural causes before execution. Courts ruled that eight others were not subject to execution because they are mentally retarded. The average age of the inmates who were executed was 43, and the average time they spent on Death Row was 15.3 years, the report said.

The full report, including details on all pending cases and executed prisoners, can be viewed online at this link.

Especially now that Ohio has been pretty serious about the death penalty both in terms of sentencing and executions for over a decade, I strongly believe that serious capital researcher should be focusing a whole lot more attention on what is working and what is not working in the application of capital punishment in the Buckeye state.  The political and social dynamics of Ohio make it a state much more representative of the national as a whole than most other serious death penalty states, and the public information and sample sizes of murder rates and prosecutorial decision-making ought to be quite good for serious empirical research.

Sadly, I doubt that many folks without a pre-set agenda will start looking at Ohio's capital punishment experiences closely.  Nevertheless, if and when serious researchers want an opportunity to look for new death penalty stories through a rigorous review of modern capital punishment realities, they can and should be heading to Ohio.

April 6, 2011 at 08:37 AM | Permalink


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I don't think people in the anti capital punishment camp will look too closely at Ohio. The spiel for years has been the death penalty is only carried out in the deep south and is closely tied to slavery. They stretch it by claiming that Maryland, Missouri, Delaware and Oklahoma are southern states and ignoring Ohio.

I'm willing to arguments on cost and innocence but this is just obnoxious.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Apr 6, 2011 1:45:22 PM

Thank you for sharing,it is very helpful and I really like it!

Posted by: Big pony | Apr 11, 2011 6:05:00 AM

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