Bipartisan Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to End the Death Penalty in Ohio

A bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced legislation to end the death penalty in Ohio.

Senate Bill (SB) 101 sponsored by State Senators Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City), Michele Reynolds (R-Canal Winchester), Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus), and Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) aims to remove the death penalty in Ohio and instead pursue life without parole for capital crimes.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections details that currently, there are 138 people on Ohio Death Row. No executions have occurred in Ohio since Governor Mike DeWine took office in 2019. John Kasich was the state’s governor in 2018, when the last execution took place. According to Antonio, who has been introducing this bill for a number of years, this year the legislation has the support of seven Democrats and five Republicans.

According to Antonio, since death row has not been recently active in the state, it’s time for Ohio to take steps to abolish capital punishment.

“It is time for the State of Ohio to take the pragmatic, economically prudent and principled step to end capital punishment. It will take all of us working together to make this kind of monumental change in Ohio. Today, we join a growing call for abolition, against a backdrop of public opinion, which increasingly favors life sentences over the use of the death penalty in Ohio and across the nation,” Antonio said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said he supports the death penalty especially for “the most heinous offenders.”

“I support the death penalty, especially for the most heinous offenders and as a way to protect our corrections officers. Consider offenders already serving a life sentence who commit murder in prison – what penalty should they receive? “The bottom line: Ohio’s death penalty is a farce and a broken promise of justice – and it must be fixed. This discussion has been a long time coming, so let’s have it now. If Ohio chooses to end capital punishment, let it own the decision in the full light of day. I will stand on the other side, with the families of the slain,” Yost said.

Huffman said that he used to support capital punishment but now believes it’s the wrong policy for the state.

“Like so many Ohioans, I once supported capital punishment and over time, with prayer and reflection, have come to believe it’s the wrong policy for the state of Ohio,” Huffman said.

Huffman also mentioned that it costs two to three times as much to put someone on death row as it does to sentence them to life in prison.

Reynolds said that human life is not a bargaining chip.

“I believe that life begins at conception and ends in natural death. The death penalty, as it is applied today, devalues the dignity of human life. What we do with a human life should not be based on where you live, what race you are or your socioeconomic status. I am pleased to join my fellow legislators on this important legislation and it is my prayer that we can end the death penalty and affirm the dignity of life for all Ohioans,” Reynolds said.

The lawmakers have introduced the legislation but its not yet in a committee.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Steve Huffman” by Ohio State Senator Steve Huffman. Photo “Michele Reynolds” by Michele Reynolds. Photo “Hearcel Craig” by State Senator Hearcel F. Craig. Photo “Nickie Antonio” by Nickie J. Antonio. Background Photo “Ohio Statehouse” by General Ization. CC BY 3.0.


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