COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The effort to abolish the death penalty has been ongoing for more than a decade in Ohio, and on Tuesday afternoon, Senate Bill 101, which would accomplish that, will have its first Senate committee hearing.
SB 101 has a list of bipartisan co-sponsors, and its primary sponsors are Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City).
“It’s our belief that we as a society must be better than our worst criminals and better than our flawed justice system,” Antonio said.
The bill would end the use of the death penalty in Ohio and replace it with life in prison without parole.
“Having someone wake up every day, be in that space, and think about what they themselves did to put themselves there is justice served,” Antonio said.
“It is two to three times more costly to put someone on death row than it is to put them in life in prison,” Huffman said.
After being elected to the Ohio Senate in 1980, now-Gov. Mike DeWine cosponsored a bill to restore the death penalty in Ohio.
“I had just come off being a county prosecutor and attorney, I thought it was the right thing to do,” DeWine said.
But now the governor said there have been no executions since he was elected, and he does not expect any during the remainder of his term.
“That will be an eight-year period of time where we’ve had no executions in the state of Ohio,” he said. “We now have a situation where the death penalty is not carried out very often and if it is carried out, it may be 20 years or 25 years after the event occurs.”
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said while this legislation brings forward a much-needed debate, he supports the death penalty for the “most heinous offenders.”
But DeWine said the moral justification has been that the death penalty is a deterrent for violent crime, but said he is unsure that remains true today.
“We have to start questioning that now when we look at how it’s been applied for many years and whether or not it truly is a deterrent,” DeWine said. “So, I think that’s where this debate frankly needs to go.”
“It is time to end capital punishment which has been found to be expensive, impractical, unjust, unfair, inhumane, and in the past, even erroneous,” Antonio said.