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 us 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.
Tell your Senator To Support SMI Legislation (Updated 6.25.2020)
This June, House Bill 136, known as the “Serious Mental Illness (SMI) Bill”, passed the Senate Judiciary committee. The bill prohibits a person who commits a capital crime while having a serious mental mental illness from being sentenced to death. Over the past 5 years, three versions of this legislation have been introduced in the Ohio Statehouse, and this is the farthest the bill has gone: the only step left is to pass the Senate floor!
- Click here to ask Senate President Obhof to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.
- Click here to call your representative and ask them to support this bill when it comes to the Senate floor.
If you are from the Hamilton area and are represented by Senator Bill Coley— we need you to call him, since he voted against the bill in committee.
Oppose Federal Executions (Updated 07.13.2020)
This year we could see the first federal executions since 2003. We are saddened and disturbed that our government plans to proceed with these executions, and in the midst of a health pandemic and a global reckoning with our criminal legal system, no less.
- Click here to tell President Trump that lives should not be a political bargaining chip, and that he should stop federal executions.
- Click here to sign a petition to urge Congress to support Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s H.R. 4052, legislation to abolish the federal death penalty.
- Click here to sign the Equal Justice USA Joint Letter to President Trump and US Attorney General Barr.
- 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.