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.
Support Elwood Jones, A Man on Death Row We Believe to be Innocent (Updated 2.27.2020)
In 1997, Elwood Jones was sentenced to die for murdering an elderly woman while he was working as an employee of a Blue Ash hotel. But Elwood has maintained his innocence over the decades he’s sat on death row. And on April 2 & 3, he will have the chance to convince a judge he deserves a new trial. Help us pack the courtroom on April 2 & 3 to support Elwood and send a message to Ohio that the death penalty must end. Check out Elwood Jones’s Updated Case Summary to learn more.
Stop Executions for People with Serious Mental Illnesses (Updated 6.4.2019)
Ohio HB 136, often referred to as the Serious Mental Illness– or “SMI”–bill, would prohibit a person who has a specified serious mental illness from receiving a death sentence. Executing those with serious mental illnesses is inhumane and cruel. The ACLU estimates that only about 5-10% of individuals currently on death row would be affected by this legislation.
Executing those with serious mental illnesses is inhumane and cruel. Click here to read about why this bill will ensure that our justice system is more fair for those who are mentally ill. Please call your representative and ask them to vote YES on HB 136 to save lives.
- 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.