Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ohio Death Penalty Review Task Force Report

 The Columbus Dispatch this morning is reporting that “sweeping changes in how Ohio handles capital punishment, including banning executions of the mentally ill, requiring DNA evidence or a videotaped confessions and reserving the death penalty for the 'worst of the worst' crimes, are among a long list of recommendations by the Ohio Supreme Court Death Penalty Task Force scheduled to be finalized later today.”

 Other recommendations include creating a statewide “capital litigation fund” to pay for death penalty cases and eliminating death penalty eligibility for some crimes, such as kidnapping, rape, and aggravated arson, robbery & burglary, all of which can be considered capital crimes under the current law.
 While not following through on a recommendation to establish a special committee to deal with geographic disparities among Ohio’s counties, the Dispatch’s article noted the issue as being “particularly obvious in Hamilton County which has sent a disproportionate number of killers to death row,” and the Task Force’s proposing a similar review committee on racial-disparity issues being set up by the attorney general.

   The task force was convened two years ago by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and the Ohio State Bar Association to review the manner in which the state prosecutes & administers its death penalty, though specifically being instructed “not to review whether Ohio should or shouldn't have the death penalty.”

   Some of the proposed changes in the 71-page document would have to be approved by the General Assembly, the Dispatch’s article says, and signed into law by the governor, while others are going to require changing administrative rules & procedures having to have accrediting agencies sign off on them.  

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