Columbus — A Democratic state lawmaker urged an Ohio Senate panel May 13 to abolish the use of capital punishment in the state, citing cases where innocent men received death sentences.
“The continued use of capital punishment is enormously expensive and wasteful, shows no clear benefits, is arbitrarily applied and always carries the possibility of execution of an innocent person,” Sen. Edna Brown (D-Toledo) told members of the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee.
Brown offered sponsor testimony on SB 293, one of several bills seeking to address death penalty issues in the state.
Her testimony May 13 came after a prolonged execution using a new drug combination in Ohio earlier this year and a botched execution in Oklahoma last month, both of which prompted renewed calls in the state and nationally for an end to capital punishment.
A task force recently completed work on a series of recommendations that backers say will improve the administration of the death penalty in Ohio, though prosecutors have countered that proposed law and policy changes likely would mean an end to capital punishment in the state.
The Republican-controlled legislature has not signaled any willingness to ban executions outright, despite pleas from Brown and others.
Brown noted statistics compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center showing 144 death row inmates have been exonerated nationally since 1973, including half a dozen in Ohio.
“My primary goal in introducing this legislation is to ensure that our state does not kill an innocent person,” she told the Senate committee May 13. “I believe this is a goal that we can all support. Unfortunately, it is not a simple task to accomplish under the current capital punishment system.”
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.