Convincing Ohio’s policy makers to catch up with the rest of Ohioans about the significant problems with Ohio’s Death Penalty is apparently going to be harder than I thought.
On October 6, even in the midst of the growing body of compelling evidence that Ohio can neither afford or properly carry out the death penalty, Ohio’s House of Representatives voted 89-4 to expand the death penalty in Ohio.
The focus of any debate about the future of the death penalty has been on how to execute rather than whether having a death penalty makes sense from a law enforcement and public policy standpoint.
And in light of Ohio’s pending budget crisis a more complete discussion of the costs and benefits of the Death Penalty is more necessary than ever.
A recently released national poll of police chiefs makes a compelling case that tax dollars devoted to to law enforcement are too precious to spend on a broken execution process.
The report’s author Richard Dieter says,
“With many states spending millions to retain the death penalty, while seldom or never carrying out an
execution, the death penalty is turning into a very expensive form of life without parole. At a time of
budget shortfalls, the death penalty cannot be exempt from reevaluation alongside other wasteful
government programs that no longer make sense,”
Dieter’s findings are consistent with my own experience in working to obtain resources for law enforcement agencies in Ohio both as a member of the State Senate and as Attorney General. Law Enforcement in Ohio is genuinely starved for necessary resources.When asked an open ended question about the best methods to reduce violent crime, the Death Penalty came in last behind more important priorities like reducing drug abuse and putting more police officers on the streets.
The Ohio Attorney General’s office alone in Ohio devotes several million dollars and the time of nearly a dozen lawyers to Death Penalty Litigation. Resources that could be accessed to solve the budget shortfall or increase consumer protection activities. This is in addition to millions spent by local prosecutors and law enforcement.
The Police Chiefs also rated the Death Penalty as the least efficient use of taxpayers money.
Leaders in all branches of Ohio government have declared that “everything is on the table” in figuring out solutions to Ohio’s multi billion dollar budget shortfall.
If they mean what they say I am anxious to see who has the courage to stand up and lead the discussion about abolishing the death penalty.