Today, state Sen. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) announced the most robust bipartisan and bicameral legislative push to abolish the death penalty and replace it with life without parole to date.
“It is time for the State of Ohio to take the compassionate, pragmatic, and economically prudent step to abolish the death penalty,” said Antonio at a press conference announcing the legislation. “In the ten years that I have worked on this issue, I am pleased to announce that we are working with the strongest bipartisan team of members ever in the history of legislative offerings to abolish the death penalty in our state.”
Antonio was joined by many other supporters of this legislation who made the following statements:
"My strong Catholic faith, combined with 30 years as a practicing emergency room physician, drives my belief that life should be valued. One wrongful conviction is one too many," said Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City), the joint sponsor of the legislation. "The pain suffered by the families who have lost loved ones to violent crime is real, as they look for closure delivered by our justice system. Life in prison is a terminal sentence. It provides a definitive answer with the assurance that a person convicted of the most heinous capital case will spend the rest of their natural life behind bars, and die in prison.”
“It is time to end the death penalty – it is a moral issue; it is a national security issue,” said Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus). “Apart from ethical and spiritual reasons to oppose capital punishment, the carrying out of executions raises significant concerns on who is sentenced to death and how that sentence is carried out. It is long past time Ohio joins the global community in ending the death penalty.”
“Over the past few General Assemblies, the legislature has passed laws to change the process and place limitations on the use of the death penalty,” said Sen. Sandra R. Williams (D-Cleveland). “It no longer makes sense to continue to piecemeal Ohio’s policy. It is time to completely abolish the use of the death penalty.”
“Over the course of my life, I have reevaluated this issue. When I last served in this Chamber 16 years ago, I was an advocate for continuing the death penalty. A decade and half later – I truly feel, the time has come to end the death penalty in Ohio,” said Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Miami Township). “I’m looking forward to discussing this important issue with my colleagues and constituents.”
“The death penalty is the harshest and most final punishment that the state can muster. Tragically and too often, the wrong person is put to death because these decisions are made by human beings who can be wrong,” said Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland). “It costs far more to carry out the death penalty than it does to imprison someone for life, and there’s no evidence that it reduces crime. Ohioans can no longer afford to keep this expensive and ineffective law on the books, especially when and it’s unable to be carried out in the first place. Government should not be so powerful that it can put to death the same people that it’s charged to protect.”
Legislators were also joined by representatives for Ohioans to Stop Executions, Witness to Innocence, the Ohio Catholic Conference, the Ohio Council of Churches, and other faith leaders.
Antonio has introduced similar legislation in every General Assembly in which she’s served since 2011. Antonio says the bill will be introduced in the coming weeks.
Video of the press conference can be found here