Ohio executions at a standstill

Laura A. Bischoff - Springfield News-Sun, Ohio

Forty years after Ohio adopted its current death penalty law, 336 people have been sentenced to death and 56 executions have been carried out but the system is at a standstill now as Ohio is unable to acquire the lethal injection drugs.

Since Ohio passed the capital punishment law in 1981, one of every six death sentences has been carried out, according to a newly released report by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. During that time, 21 people have had their sentences commuted, 33 died of natural causes or suicide, and eight were removed from Death Row because they were found intellectually disabled.

Just one person — Joel Drain — was condemned to death in 2020. Drain pleaded no contest in Warren County in the April 2019 murder of another prison inmate.

In Ohio, 82 death sentences were removed by judicial action due to legal errors, such as failure by prosecutors to share exculpatory evidence as required or ineffective counsel.

Yost blamed the delays on Ohio’s inability to get lethal injection drugs as well as inmates taking advantage of multiple avenues of appeal. At the end of 2020, 23 death penalty cases had been pending in federal court for a decade or more, the report said.

“In short, Ohio imposes death sentences on perpetrators of brutal and revolting murders, then spends years debating, reviewing, appealing and failing to act on those decisions,” Yost reported.


Laura A. Bischoff

Springfield News-Sun, Ohio

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