‘Expensive, impractical, unjust;’ New bill looking to abolish death penalty in Ohio

COLUMBUS — There is a renewed push to get rid of Ohio’s death penalty.

Tuesday lawmakers, including one from the Miami Valley, talked about plans to end it.

Bills like Senate Bill 101 have been introduced before, but these latest efforts have bipartisan support.

Senate Democratic Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Senator Stephen Huffman (R-Tipp City) are the primary sponsors of the bill which would abolish Ohio’s death penalty and instead pursue life without parole for capital crimes.

Antonio described the death penalty as “expensive, impractical, unjust, inhumane and erroneous.”

Huffman agreed that it’s costly.

“The cost of the average death penalty, including execution is $3 million per inmate compared with the average cost of a life without parole sentence for an Ohio inmate is about $1 million,” Huffman said.

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According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, there are more than 120 people on death row in the state.

The Associated Press reported Ohio’s last execution was in July 2018.

Miami Valley residents had varying opinions about the punishment.

“I think that if the crime warrants the penalty, I would go ahead as long as the jury says so, I think it’s warranted. The really bad crime, yeah I think so, but it shouldn’t be overused,” Tim Missimer of Troy said.

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“It’s tough but I know people can be transformed in prison. People can change their life not that I think that they should maybe get out...I just find a hard time killing anybody myself personally or wanting anybody to die,” Mike Smith of Piqua said.

For more than a decade Antonio said she’s introduced legislation to end the death penalty but nothing worked.

University of Dayton Law Professor Thaddeus Hoffmeister shared if he thinks the bill will become law this time.

“It has bipartisan support and it has a number of co-sponsors more so than the bills that have been introduced in the previous years. I think what you’re seeing is a growing trend in this country to move away from the death penalty. So not saying it’s going to pass but has a stronger chance than all the previous bills that have been introduced,” Hoffmeister said.

If passed Ohio would become the 24th state to abolish the death penalty.

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