Ohio Committee Recommends Narrowing of Crimes Eligible for Capital Punishment

An Ohio Supreme Court committee appointed to study the death penalty recently made recommendations on how the state’s capital punishment system can lessen the impact of racial bias. The committee recommended limiting the death penalty to fewer cases, focusing on those involving multiple victims, those involving victims under the age of 13, killings of police officers, and crimes committed to eliminate witnesses. The proposal attempts to remove the influence of race in capital cases by eliminating the death penalty for cases that involve a high degree of discretion in sentencing, such as murders that involve kidnapping, rape, aggravated arson, aggravated burglary, or aggravated robbery. The recommendation was passed by the committee by a vote of 12-2, and will likely be considered during the 2014 legislative session. Death penalty statutes vary significantly among the states. California, which has the largest death row in the country, and Texas, the leading execution state, have broad statutes that allow almost any murder case to be tried as a capital case. New Hampshire and Kansas, however, have much narrower statutes.

(“Court committee: Revamp Ohio death penalty law by narrowing list of eligible crimes,” Associated Press, June 27, 2013). See Arbitrariness and Recent Legislation.