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Government/Politics

Advocates Remain Hopeful Ohio Will Abolish The Death Penalty

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Statehouse News Bureau
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Lawmakers have held hearings for two bipartisan bills in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate to end the executions.

Ohio lawmakers are back in session with a list of bills to consider, including measures that would abolish the death penalty in the state. Anti-execution advocates say they're getting closer and closer to accomplishing their goal.

There are bipartisan bills in the Ohio House and Senate to end the death penalty, HB183 and SB103. Both have received two hearings in committees.

The House bill has 25 sponsors and co-sponsors while the Senate bill has 11 total sponsors.

Abraham Bonowitz with Death Penalty Action says they've seen a wave of success in ending executions in other states, including Republican-led ones.

"It's really a wake-up call to recognize the failure of the death penalty as a public policy and here we are watching the legislature actually look at it with open eyes and say this isn't working it's time to get rid of it," says Bonowitz.

Proponents of the bill face an uphill climb. Prosecutors have argued to keep the death penalty as a resource in court cases and leaders in the House and Senate have voiced their support for it as well.

In 2020, the legislature passed HB136 which bans executing someone found guilty of aggravated murder if the offender has a "serious mental illness."

Ohio has not carried out an execution since 2018 due to a shortage of drugs for lethal injection.

Earlier this month, Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) delayed the executions of four death row inmates who were scheduled for lethal injection in 2022. Instead, those executions are now scheduled for late 2024 and early 2025.

DeWine's office says the delays were "due to ongoing problems involving the willingness of pharmaceutical suppliers to provide drugs to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction."