November 2007

Death Penalty Moratorium or Not?

Monday, November 26th, 2007

There have been increasing calls for Governor Strickland to impose a moratorium on the death penalty in Ohio—and the legislature to abolish it. Research from the League of Women Voters (2005), the Associated Press (2005) and the American Bar Association (2007) all found the system flawed, variously citing violations of due process, inequities based on race and geography, and unequal legal representation.

Moreover, lawsuits have been filed in federal and state courts arguing that the lethal-injection method used for executions constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Finally, a number of Ohio death-row inmates have been found to be innocent of the crimes for which they were sentenced to be executed.

Supporters of the death penalty system, however, cite a number of arguments in defense of capital punishment. First, they argue that the death penalty is a deterrent that helps lower the rate of capital crimes—although there is conflicting evidence about this. In addition, proponents say that the death penalty protects the rights of the victims’ loved ones—and polls indicate that the majority of the public supports the death penalty. Third, supporters argue that federal and state statutory safeguards already in place are sufficient to insure justice and to protect innocent people from being executed.

What do you think about the death penalty system in Ohio? Are any changes needed? Should the governor impose a moratorium while the state verifies the system’s fairness and impartiality? Should the legislature abolish it? Let your elected representatives know what you think by clicking on the Speak Up link to the left or here.