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Government and Politics

Death penalty task force narrows scope of sentence
Task force finds that the best way to ensure the death penalty is fairly administered is to save it for the "worst of the worst"

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
In The Region:

A task force reviewing Ohio’s death penalty law recommends narrowing the number of crimes that qualify for capital punishment.

WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports.


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The Ohio Supreme Court convened the death penalty task force in 2011. In its most recent meeting, the committee, made up of academics, lawmakers, lawyers and judges, overwhelmingly approved recommendations that would change rules on seeking the death penalty.

Ohio Public Defender Tim Young chairs the disparity subcommittee.

He says certain crimes result in the highest racial disparities in how capital punishment is applied.

“We found that race was most significant when you had felony murders, those cases where somebody may well not have initially intended to kill somebody they were intending to rob them, to rape them, to commit a burglary, and in the course of that killed somebody.”

In those cases he says prosecutors should seek life in prison. Five of the last 10 inmates put to death in Ohio would not have received the death penalty under the proposed guidelines.  Young says the task force believes capital punishment should be reserved for the “worst of the worst.”

The committee will send its final recommendations to lawmakers this fall.  

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