On September 6, 2023, a bipartisan group of Ohio state representatives reintroduced a bill that would abolish the death penalty and replace the punishment with life in prison without parole. Legislators in Ohio have debated the use of capital punishment for nearly a decade, but this renewed effort comes after state senators introduced Senate Bill 101 earlier in the year, which would also abolish the use of capital punishment. Among the primary sponsors of these bills is Representative Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland). Representative Schmidt cited her pro-life values in her support of this bill, stating she “believe[s] life begins at conception and it ends with natural death.” For Rep. Schmidt, “the death penalty stops [natural death] because the death penalty is anything but natural.” Rep. Schmidt spoke with former DPIC Deputy Director Ngozi Ndulue in 2021, where she discussed how her view on capital punishment has changed. After meeting exonerees from Ohio, Rep. Schmidt said she saw that the death penalty did not act as a deterrent, but rather allowed for an error-prone system to impose an irreversible punishment. Rep. Schmidt’s co-sponsor, Representative Adam Miller (D-Columbus) says he is “astounded” that Ohio “continue[s] to waste millions and millions of taxpayer dollars on a failed system that has never, never proven to keep us safe.”

According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, there are currently 122 prisoners housed on death row. Ohio has not carried out an execution since 2018, when the state executed Robert Van Hook via lethal injection. Since 2019, Governor Mike DeWine has repeatedly delayed executions in Ohio, due to the state’s inability to obtain the drugs needed for lethal injection. Attorney General David Yost has criticized the state’s spending on capital punishment. Per AG Yost’s Capital Crimes Report, it would cost the state of Ohio between $128-$384 million to impose the death penalty for all 122 prisoners currently on death row. “That’s a stunning amount of money to spend on a program that doesn’t achieve its purpose,” Yost said. Continuing to cite the arguments of those both in favor and against the death penalty, Yost thinks that with the current system in place “neither side is getting what it wants while the state goes on pointlessly burning through enormous taxpayer resources.” AG Yost believes that this newly introduced legislation will open the door for debate surrounding the death penalty, but ultimately supports the use of capital punishment for the “most heinous offenders.” Even though death penalty opponents say they have greater bipartisan support this legislative year, many groups, including the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, oppose the proposed legislation to end the death penalty.

At a press conference discussing the introduction of the house bill, Representative Miller reiterated that “the death penalty is expensive, costly, time-consuming, and an ineffective means of reducing crime rates… The death penalty disproportionately affects marginalized communities, and this alone tells us the system is broken.” Rep. Miller also acknowledged that abolishing the death penalty in Ohio would be just one step, among many, towards fixing the criminal legal system. He said, “it is time to focus on investing on policies that prevent crime in the first place from happening, instead of coming on the back end.”


Josh Croup, Ohio law­mak­ers renew push to end death penal­ty, WTVG, September 6, 2023; Natalie Fahmy, Renewed effort at Ohio Statehouse to end the death penal­ty, WCMH, September 62023.

See Senate Bill 101, here.

Listen to Representative Schmidt on Discussions with DPIC, here.

Photo cred­it: Encyclopedia Britannica, seal of Ohio