Ohio Committee Makes Preliminary Recommendations for Death Penalty Reform

A committee empaneled by the Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court made three preliminary recommendations at its June meeting for reforming the state’s death penalty. The panel, which consists of prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and academic experts, voted to recommend a reduction in the scope of crimes eligible for the death penalty, the creation of a statewide panel to decide on seeking a death sentence, and the enactment of a Racial Justice Act. The restriction of capital crimes would limit the death penalty to only those cases that involved the murder of multiple victims, a child under 13, or a police officer, or a murder committed to escape detention or eliminate a witness. The statewide review panel would consist of former prosecutors, who would examine potential capital cases to determine whether local prosecutors could bring capital charges. A Racial Justice Act would allow death row inmates to use statistical studies to support claims of racial bias in state courts. While the proposals received a majority vote from the committee, not all members supported them and some opponents were absent from the meeting. A final report is due by the end of the year.

(A. Welsh-Huggins, “Analysis: Divisions mark Ohio death penalty panel,” Associated Press via the Modesto Bee, July 15, 2013). See Studies and Race.