Death Penalty

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.

Our Position: 

IJPC holds the position that implementing the death penalty, Death Penaltyeven 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.

Our Work: 

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. 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. The Death Penalty Committee meets on the second Tuesday each month at 7:00 PMat IJPC.

Take Action

  • Contact Prosecutor Joe Deters about his comment on the Death Row Inmate Suicide (3.21.2017)
    • In response to an inmate suicide, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, a critic of execution delays, callously said in a statement to the Associated Press: “Finally someone on death row has died.”
    • We find this statement abhorrent coming from an elected official and exposes the very same disregard for the the sanctity of life that we are punishing those on death row for.
    • We ask as many people as possible to write to Prosecutor Deters expressing your outrage.
    • Click here for a sample letter but you can also write your own language as well.
    • You can send your letter to:
      Prosecutor Joe Deters
      230 E 9th St #4000,
      Cincinnati, OH 45202
      or call (513) 946-3000
    • Should you choose to contact Joe Deters, let us know. We want to keep track of those who expressed their dismay and if you are in touch with any of his staff, we’d love to know how it goes.
  • 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

  • Contact Governor Kasich to not resume executions and to commute Ronald Phillips’ sentence (Updated 12.19.2016)
    • Ronald Phillips is scheduled to be executed on January 12th, the first in a nearly 3 year de facto moritorium.
    • Phillips has already served 24 years on Ohio’s death row and a true life without parole sentence was not available until three years after this crime occurred. It was is possible that a jury would have recommended that sentence if available.
    • 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.
    • Ohioans to Stop Executions (OTSE) is organizing a post card campaign and you can stop by IJPC’s office to pick up a postcard.
    • You can take action online to contact Governor Kasich for this issue.
    • Governor Kasich’s office phone number is 614.466.3555

Resources:

  • 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.

About IJPC

The Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center educates and advocates for peace, challenges unjust local, national and global systems, and promotes the creation of a nonviolent society. IJPC is supported by faith-based organizations and individuals who work together to educate around justice issues, take collaborative action and do public witness. We address local, national and international concerns focusing on the death penalty, immigration, human trafficking and peace and nonviolence.

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