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Report says Ohio should overhaul the death penalty or abolish it

Statehouse News Bureau
Statehouse News Bureau
A bed used for lethal injections at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.

Republican Attorney General Dave Yost has been a supporter of the death penalty in Ohio. But a new report from his office said it is costing the state millions of dollars while it is on hold.

While capital punishment for certain crimes is on the books in Ohio, there hasn’t been an execution in Ohio since July 18, 2018. A lack of drugs for lethal injection is often blamed for delays. Gov. Mike DeWine has not authorized the execution of any death row inmates since he took office.

Some state lawmakers, including Republicans like Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City), have joined Democratic legislators in supporting legislation to abolish it. Huffman, who said he is against it based on his Catholic faith, explained the death penalty initiates a lot of legal appeals. And he said that's expensive for taxpayers.

“It is two to three times more costly to put someone on death row than it is to put them in life in prison," Huffman said.

The latest Ohio Capital Crimes Report from Yost’s office said the state "must overhaul the capital punishment system to make it effective, or end it." The report cited a study by the state's Legislative Service Commission, which does research for state lawmakers. It found, in some states, each death-penalty case costs somewhere between $1 million and $3 million more than a case resulting in life imprisonment.

There are 128 inmates currently on death row in Ohio so, using those numbers, the report said the death penalty could be costing up to $384 million dollars more than a case resulting in a life sentence.

“That’s a stunning amount of money to spend on a program that doesn’t achieve its purpose,” the report stated.

But in a written statement, Yost said it's important to keep the death penalty in place, in part, to deter inmates from harming corrections officers. And he said he thinks state lawmakers need to address problems with it.

"The bottom line: Ohio’s death penalty is a farce and a broken promise of justice – and it must be fixed. This discussion has been a long time coming, so let’s have it now. If Ohio chooses to end capital punishment, let it own the decision in the full light of day. I will stand on the other side, with the families of the slain," Yost said in the report.

Contact Jo Ingles at
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