Working to end the death penalty in Ohio remains a priority for IJPC as the 2007 Ohio Supreme Court Joint Task Force found that the state failed to meet 93% of the standards for basic fairness.
IJPC holds the position that implementing the death penalty, even for the most serious of crimes, is morally wrong and a violation of basic human rights. In addition to that, we believe the system as it stands is so broken that it would be nearly impossible to fix. To date, nine men in Ohio have been found innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted, after spending decades on death row, and have been exonerated. Research shows that receiving the death penalty in the state of Ohio is highly dependent upon geographic region and more likely when the accused is a person of color and the victim is not. It also shows that it is not an effective deterrent to murder, that it is emotionally damaging to the prison staff who must carry out the law, and that it inflicts further trauma on the families of the murder victims. It is estimated that Ohio spends nearly 17 million dollars a year on capital cases at minimum, depleting needed revenue for better policing and crime prevention initiatives.
IJPC is committed to raising public awareness of the injustices and ineffectiveness of Ohio’s death penalty system, advocating on behalf of individual inmates when appropriate, advocating for the needs of murder victims’ families, and offering support to families with loved ones on death row through our Families That Matter program. Additionally, IJPC has held vigils and has been a presence at every execution in Ohio since 1999. Now that executions have resumed, please check the events page to join us for a prayer vigil in Cincinnati the night before a scheduled execution and in Lucasville the morning of an execution. IJPC works closely with organizations including Ohioans to Stop Executions (OTSE), and the Catholic Social Action Office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to provide educational programming and to mobilize constituents to advance legislative reforms intended to create a more just, equitable, and effective criminal justice system. Our Critical Issues in Criminal Justice exhibit uses a virtual reality experience of solitary confinement to better understand the terrible treatment of prisoners. Contact Andrea for more information about bringing the exhibit to your school or group. The Death Penalty Committee meets on the second Tuesday each month at 7:00 PM at IJPC.
- Contact Governor Kasich to stop executions (Updated 11.22.2017)
- Since the resuming of executions in July 2017, two men have been executed and one execution was attempted and then called off. There are executions scheduled for the next few years.
- Executions should not be allowed to resume in Ohio until the recommendations of the Supreme Court Task Force have been implemented. These 56 recommendations are intended to make Ohio’s death penalty more fair and accurate.
- Call Governor Kasich’s office at 466.3555 and ask him to put executions on hold, or commute the sentences of the condemned.
- Take the Death Penalty Off of the Table for the Mentally Ill (updated 2.23.2017)
- Senate Bill 40, as introduced by Senator John Eklund (R) of Portage County, and portions of both Geauga and Lake Counties and Senator Sandra Williams (D) from Cuyahoga County, would make it impossible for criminal defendants with severe mental illnesses to be eligible for the death penalty. The illnesses listed within the bill are schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and delusional disorder. This bill is the step in right direction towards a fair criminal justice system.
- Ohio’s track record with fair and equitable application of the death penalty is abysmal. In 2007, the American Bar Association (ABA) found that Ohio failed to meet 93% of their standards for a fair and accurate state death penalty system.
- The creation of this bill stems from a recommendation given by the 2011 Joint Task Force to Review the Administration of Ohio’s Death Penalty that called to end executions of the mentally ill. The task force was assembled in response to the ABA’s critique of Ohio’s death penalty system. This group was formed by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and consisted of prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and other criminal justice professionals. Of their 56 recommendations, the state of Ohio has implemented only 4 into law.
- The treatment of the mentally ill within Ohio’s criminal justice system has been a hotly debated issue. Click here to read opposing viewpoints on the issue by Mike Brickner, senior policy director of the ACLU of Ohio, and John Murphy, executive director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association.
- SB 40 was referred on February 15th to the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Hamilton County Senator Cecil Thomas is a member. Several bills proposing the abolition of the death penalty have been introduced to this committee over the years, but none of them have ever passed this stage. There are plans to introduce a similar bill into the Ohio House of Representatives.
- Contact your senators and let them know of your support for this bill. Senator Cecil Thomas has the ability to champion this bill and allow it to pass into the next stage of the legislative process. Please take the time to contact him at (614) 466-5980 or reach him via email here: http://ohiosenate.gov/thomas/contact. If you are in another Ohio district that is not under Senator Thomas, then please take the time to message them and express your concerns. Together we can defeat Ohio’s barbaric practice of the execution of the mentally ill.Senator Steve Wilson: (614) 466-9737 Senator Lou Terhar: (614) 466-8068
- Ohioans to Stop Executions (OTSE) released a report in September 2016 called “A Relic of the Past: Ohio’s Dwindling Death Penalty” This report details a continuing decline in executions and new death sentences in Ohio while highlighting the disparities between counties which prosecute death cases. The report also catalogs the reluctance of Ohio legislators to consider recommendations made by a Supreme Court Task Force to make Ohio’s death penalty more fair and accurate.
- Research released in January 2016 by Political Science Professor Frank Baumgartner of the University of North Carolina reveals significant and troubling racial, gender, and geographic disparities with regards to who is executed in Ohio. The study, which looks at executions that were carried out between 1976 and 2014, details how the race and gender of the victim, as well as the county in which the crime occurred, improperly influence who is sentenced to death and executed in the state.