WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Trumbull County Assistant Prosecutor Chris Becker represented the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office and Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins in Columbus Wednesday when he testified before a committee about keeping Ohio’s death penalty.
Becker testified against House Bill 183, which would abolish Ohio’s death penalty.
In his prepared statement, Becker cites what he calls past failures of the Ohio legislature when it rolled back penalties for criminals in the state, most recently Senate Bill 256, which banned life without parole for juveniles, including the most violent among them.
“The Ohio legislature saw fit to not only give convicted child murderers a break by removing the discretion of judges, juries and prosecutors in the State of Ohio in sentencing juvenile murderers to life in prison without the possibility of parole but to retrospectively and against the hard work of juries, judges and prosecutors and retroactively allow parole for the worst juvenile murderers around the state,” Becker wrote.
Becker also cited past sentencing guidelines that have reduced sentences by months and years for many convicted felons.
“The Ohio legislature has consistently over the last 30 years eroded and shrunk penalties for the worst of worst offenders in this state,” he wrote.
In his statement against HB 183, Becker writes that the legislation to abolish the death penalty is “unneeded and unwanted by the people of the State of Ohio.”
He said the record number of murders happening in the state, pointing to Columbus and Warren which saw a record number of homicides in 2020, show that “stronger laws are needed not weaker ones.”
Becker encouraged the committee to leave the decision on whether or not to keep the death penalty up to the voters instead of passing legislation.