COLUMBUS—Today the No Death Penalty Ohio coalition released topline results from a statewide public opinion poll of voters’ views on capital punishment, and the results show that a majority of Ohioans support repealing the death penalty. At the Ohio Statehouse, a bipartisan team of lawmakers have introduced Senate Bill 101 and House Bill 259, legislation that would abolish the death penalty and replace it with a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
This poll is especially relevant in the aftermath of Alabama executing Kenneth Smith with nitrogen hypoxia - an untested method that UN experts warned could amount to torture in violation of human rights treaties. Similar legislation is being considered in Ohio, and the No Death Penalty Ohio coalition is in complete opposition to any such effort.
Key findings include:
- When asked if Ohio should do away with the death penalty and replace it with a life sentence for murder without the possibility of parole, 56% of respondents said yes.
- When asked which punishment is preferred for 1st degree murder, 57% of respondents chose life in prison as opposed to the death penalty.
- When asked if the Ohio Governor should sign a law replacing the death penalty with a life sentence without the possibility of parole, 58% of respondents said yes.
- When asked if the risk of executing innocent people is too great, 56% of respondents agreed.
“Ohioans have been moving away from the death penalty for years. Juries aren’t returning death sentences; and in fact, there have been no new death sentences in three years,” said Allison Cohen, executive director of Ohioans to Stop Executions. “Ohioans understand that the system can’t be fixed, can’t be applied fairly and any attempt to do so is both a waste of money and fundamental misunderstanding of where Ohio’s values are aligned. This is especially important in light of recent efforts to adopt new execution methods. The people of Ohio want to protect and sustain life, which means abolishing the death penalty.”
“Whether it’s due to racial disparity, fiscal or innocence concerns, people all across the state and across the aisle believe that it’s time for Ohio to cut ties with the death penalty. To date, 23 states plus Washington D.C. have repealed the death penalty, Ohio can and should be the 24th,” said Jocelyn Rosnick, Policy Director for the ACLU of Ohio.
“There is no justice in the death penalty. People of conscience and people of faith know that each of us is more than the worst thing we have done. It is time we abolish a system that is unfairly applied, ineffective, and unwanted by the people of Ohio,” said Allison Reynolds-Berry, Executive Director of Ignite Peace.
“It has been more than five years since the state of Ohio has conducted an execution, and this public opinion poll reveals that use of the death penalty is not something Ohioans embrace,” noted Brian Tringali, Partner at The Tarrance Group.
The study, conducted by The Tarrance Group between September 18 and September 22, 2023, included online interviews with 600 registered voters in Ohio. The percentages reflect the view of Ohio voters of all major demographic groups, political affiliations, and geographical regions throughout Ohio.
Read the one-pager summary of the poll results