Last week Ohio exoneree Dale Johnston penned an op-ed for the Columbus Dispatch in which he urged Governor John Kasich to reconsider his decision to resume executions in the state. Following Johnson’s piece, this week former Ohio attorney generals Jim Petro and Lee Fisher authored an opinion piece for the Columbus Dispatch in which they also call on the governor to not resume capital punishment after a nearly four-year hiatus.
According to the op-ed, Ohio has proposed to execute 27 people in the next four years—the first one scheduled to take place next week—but Lee and Petro write that “[t]here are numerous reasons why this would be too risky for Ohio.”
TAKE ACTION: Ask Governor Kasich to not resume capital punishment in Ohio
In 2014, a report released by the Ohio Supreme Court Joint Task Force on the Administration of Ohio’s Death Penalty highlighted various systemic problems within the state’s death penalty laws and practices. The report also outlined a number of recommendations, write Lee and Petro, “to make the system fairer, more reliable, and more just. . . . Yet none of the most consequential recommendations have so far been adopted.”
Lee and Petro write:
The death penalty is still sought disproportionately and used in some counties more than in others for comparable crimes. The death penalty is still much more often sought if the victim is white. The death penalty is still sought against defendants who have serious mental illness at the time of the crime.
Most worryingly, we still cannot say with confidence that Ohio is not preparing to execute people who are utterly innocent.
Nine people have been exonerated from Ohio’s death row in recent decades. Three have been freed since the state last executed. . .
. . . . Many of the recommendations made by the Supreme Court task force are intended to reduce the chances that an innocent person could be put to death. Until those safeguards are enacted, the possibility of a wrongful conviction leading to a wrongful execution is simply too high. . .
. . . . Ohioans and their leaders must continue to discuss capital punishment and its role in our justice system, but at this moment, the resumption of the death penalty would simply perpetuate the deeply flawed system of the past, and bring its attendant costs into the future.
We respectfully ask Gov. Kasich to maintain the moratorium on execution until the problems in Ohio’s capital punishment system can be meaningfully addressed and corrected.
Read the entire op-ed here.