A coalition of legislators from both parties has submitted legislation to abolish the death penalty in Ohio.
State Senators Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City), Michele Reynolds (R-Canal Winchester), Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus), and Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) are the sponsors of Senate Bill (SB) 101, which seeks to replace the death sentence in Ohio with life without parole for serious offenses.
According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, there are now 138 inmates on Ohio’s Death Row. Ohio has not carried out any executions since Governor Mike DeWine entered office in 2019. When the last execution occurred in 2018, John Kasich was the governor of the state. Antonio, who has been sponsoring similar legislation for several years, claims that seven Democrats and five Republicans have backed it this year.
Antonio claims that since Ohio’s death row has not lately been active, it is now time for the state to take action to end the death penalty.
“It is time for the State of Ohio to take the pragmatic, economically prudent, and principled step to end capital punishment. It will take all of us working together to make this kind of monumental change in Ohio. Today, we join a growing call for abolition, against a backdrop of public opinion, which increasingly favors life sentences over the use of the death penalty in Ohio and across the nation,” he said.
Attorney General of Ohio Dave Yost stated in a statement on Tuesday that he is in favor of the death sentence, particularly for “the most heinous offenders.”
He continued, “I support the death penalty, especially for the most heinous offenders, and as a way to protect our corrections officers. Consider offenders already serving a life sentence who commit murder in prison – what penalty should they receive? “The bottom line: Ohio’s death penalty is a farce and a broken promise of justice – and it must be fixed. This discussion has been a long time coming, so let’s have it now. If Ohio chooses to end capital punishment, let it own the decision in the full light of day. I will stand on the other side, with the families of the slain.”
Huffman claimed that although he once supported the death penalty, he now thinks it is the wrong course of action for the government.
“Like so many Ohioans, I once supported capital punishment and over time, with prayer and reflection, have come to believe it’s the wrong policy for the state of Ohio,” he said.
Huffman also noted that putting someone on death row is two to three times more expensive than giving them a life sentence.
Human life, according to Reynolds, is not a negotiating chip.
“I believe that life begins at conception and ends in natural death. The death penalty, as it is applied today, devalues the dignity of human life. What we do with a human life should not be based on where you live, what race you are or your socioeconomic status. I am pleased to join my fellow legislators on this important legislation and it is my prayer that we can end the death penalty and affirm the dignity of life for all Ohioans,” said Reynolds.
Although the legislation has been introduced, it is not yet in a committee.