In light of the five-year anniversary of Ohio’s last execution, two op-eds highlighting different views about the death penalty were published in the Dayton Daily News. On August 1, Louis Tobin (pictured right), Executive Director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, expressed his support for the death penalty, and two days later, Reverend Dr. Crystal Walker (pictured left), co-chair of Ohioans to Stop Executions, expressed her support for alternatives to the death penalty.   

As the mother of a son who was shot and killed in 2013, Dr. Walker shared her perspective as a victim’s family member and death penalty opponent. “[A]s great as my pain was and is, I came through the fog of my anger to realize that wishing death upon the young man who took my son’s life was not a solution. I believe in my heart that more violence, more pain and more death is not the path forward for justice. That is why my heart is filled with hope that we will end the death penalty in Ohio,” she said.  

But Mr. Tobin criticized the characterization of the five-year anniversary by death penalty opponents as a “Day of Hope,” writing that “It was not a day of hope for the victims of these crimes, for Ohio prosecutors who seek to ensure that justice is carried out, or for the communities and families across Ohio who have experienced tragedy like the one Clermont County is experiencing.” Using the recent murders of three children in Clermont County as an example, Mr. Tobin asked “Without the death penalty what justice is there for a second murder victim, a third, or a fourth?” 

With a bipartisan abolition bill currently in the state legislature, Mr. Tobin questioned proponents’ support for abolition given the incident in Clermont County and followed up by asking, “If so, do you believe that reflects the values of your community or what your community would want if this [Clermont County] tragedy had happened there?” 

Dr. Walker highlighted issues of racial bias, lack of deterrent effect, lengthy proceedings, and overall uncertainty with the current capital punishment system as reasons for her position and recommended a re-focus on the needs of the victims’ families. She concluded by writing “In all my years living in Ohio, I have seen that my fellow citizens value life, care about community safety, and share compassion for those who are in need. The death penalty threatens all of those values. So yes, it is my hope that we will end the death penalty because it has failed families like mine.” 

Ohio’s last execution took place on July 18, 2018.  An unofficial moratorium has prevented any executions in the past five years because of concerns about the lethal injection protocol and difficulties the state has encountered when attempting to obtain lethal injection drugs.