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State Rep. Antonio Renews Request for a Moratorium on Executions

U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost delays a fourth execution.

State Rep. Nickie Antonio (D- 13) joined two other state officials in supporting a renewed call for a moratorium on executions in Ohio. 

— along with democrats Ted Celeste (Columbus) and state senator Edna Brown — sent a letter last week to Gov. John Kasich in response to U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost’s decision to delay next week’s execution, because of the State’s failure to follow its own protocol, according to a news release.

Here’s a copy of the letter:

January 12, 2011

The Honorable John Kasich

Riffe Center, 30th Floor

77 South High St.

Columbus, OH 43215

Dear Governor Kasich:

We are writing to respectfully renew our request for a moratorium on the execution of any death row inmates while the Death Penalty Joint Task Force continues to deliberate and contemplate the policies of capital punishment.

We would like to bring to your attention recent and timely developments, which we believe emphasize the need for quick action on this matter and further justify our request for a moratorium:

With the Task Force holding its second meeting today, this august body of judges, prosecuting attorneys, criminal defense counsel, legislative leaders and academics is currently considering changes to the criteria, laws, and procedures regarding the imposition of the death penalty.  We believe that, as this group of experts continues to discuss issues of fairness in the application of the death penalty, the State should not proceed with any executions until the Task Force publishes its recommendations. 

Second, US District Court Judge Gregory Frost’s halt of next week’s execution on the grounds that proper protocol was not followed during the most previous execution in November highlights concrete evidence that the State of Ohio has failed to adhere to its own lethal injection policies on numerous occasions.  The Department of Corrections failed to document the drugs used in November’s execution, and also failed to review the medical chart of the inmate put to death. 

For a process with a result so absolute as death, it is inadmissible for the State to behave improperly by not following a scrupulous list of instructions.  In July 2011, Judge Frost gave the Department of Corrections a direct order to review and revise its guidelines, citing the State’s inconsistent application of its lethal injection process.  After being given a second chance to correct its errors, the DRC has in effect failed to follow through on its own reforms.

We applaud Judge Frost for his responsible decision in the face of contradiction, and cite this as one more reason why Ohio should become the next state that replaces capital punishment with life without parole. 

The State must be held accountable for upholding the very laws it enacts.  Therefore, Senator Edna Brown has introduced Senate Bill 270, companion legislation to House Bill 160 (sponsored by Reps. Antonio & Celeste), which replaces capital punishment with a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.  Senate Bill 270 will soon have its first hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  We look forward to ongoing discussions pertaining to this legislation in both chambers of the General Assembly.

This past September, we visited the Ohio State Penitentiary with House Criminal Justice Committee Chairman Lynn Slaby and Ranking Minority Member Roland Winburn.  We met with death row inmates face-to-face who conceded that they would rather be executed than spend the rest of their lives behind bars.  Indeed, to spend the rest of one’s life in prison without the possibility of parole is a worse punishment than a quick and painless death.  Life imprisonment is also cheaper than capital punishment, and it eliminates the risk of wrongfully executing innocent inmates.

Next week, we will tour the Chillicothe Correctional Institution following the transfer of death row inmates from the Ohio State Penitentiary.  We look forward to this educational visit and are eager to have more discussions with other death row inmates.

Now more than ever, we believe there are flaws in Ohio’s death sentence that must be addressed.  Ohio has exonerated five inmates that together have spent over 81 years on death row for crimes they did not commit.  We applaud your leadership in commuting two death row inmates to life without parole in 2011.  Particularly in light of Judge Frost’s most recent ruling that the State of Ohio has continually failed to follow its own lethal injection guidelines, we respectfully renew our request for a moratorium on the execution of any death row inmates while the Joint Task Force is deliberating and contemplating the policies of the death penalty.

Our Criminal Justice System must uphold justice and respect for all Ohioans.  Your executive power will ensure that those who are scheduled to be executed are treated equally to those who are on death row after the Joint Task Force implements possible changes to the death penalty.  We are calling on you to issue an executive order to commute those scheduled to die a temporary stay while the Joint Task Force carries out its duties and recommends policies and implements new procedures.

Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your response. 

Sincerely, 

Senator Edna Brown

State Rep. Nickie J. Antonio

State Rep. Ted Celeste

 

Rev. Paula Maeder Connor January 16, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Thank you for your mindful attention to this matter. Rev. Paula Maeder Connor, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, Lakewood

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