Death Penalty

Ohio Supreme Court Taskforce Releases Recommendations to Reform Capital Punishment in Ohio

04.11.14

After more than two years of investigation, a joint taskforce of judges, prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, legal scholars, and legislators assembled by Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor have delivered a report with 56 recommendations for reforming Capital punishment in Ohio.

These recommendations include:

  • banning the use of capital punishment for individuals with a serious mental illness;
  • removing certain crimes where death was not intended from those eligible for the death penalty;
  • requiring a higher level of physical evidence, such as DNA or a videotaped confession, to guard against wrongful convictions;
  • prohibiting death penalty convictions based solely on jailhouse “snitch” testimony;
  • passing racial justice legislation to prevent biased prosecution and jury selection practices; and;
  • creating an impartial review committee through the Attorney General’s office to guard against racial discrimination and prosecutorial misconduct.

The taskforce was specifically charged with examining how the death penalty is being administered and not with questioning whether the state should continue its use of capital punishment.

Read the Ohio Supreme Court taskforce’s report on capital punishment.

Nevertheless, this report arrives amidst serious questions about Ohio’s application of the death penalty. State authorities have botched four executions in six years, granted clemency to a number of severely mentally ill prisoners, and face a growing list of officials—including two Ohio Supreme Court justices and a former corrections chief—who have turned against the system.

These recommendations should be welcome news, even for death penalty supporters.  At the very least, Ohioans should not tolerate a system that executes people with mental illness, risks executing the innocent, and perpetuates unfair discrimination in our justice system.