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On the Eve of Phillips' Execution, the Bar Association Raises Questions About Ohio's Death Penalty

Ronald Phillips

After hiatus of more than three years, Ohio is set to resume executions at 10 this morning by putting Ronald Phillips of Akron to death. His lawyers filed last-minute arguments that the drug combination Ohio plans to use has a troubling history. But as WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports, that’s not the only argument being offered.

Ronald Phillips is to be the first die, but more than two dozen other executions are set in Ohio over the next four years. The American Bar Association says it is “deeply concerned” about the state resuming executions because it has yet to address major concerns over accuracy and fairness in death-penalty cases.

CLICK HERE for the complete statement from American Bar Association President Linda Klein.

The lawyers’ group worked with Ohio on reviews of its death penalty dating back to 2007. The studies found big problems with geographic and racial bias that the bar association says “resulted in inconsistent and unfair administration.” It also says Ohio has inadequate protections for people with mental illness.

A task force appointed by the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio State Bar Association endorsed many of the reforms recommended, but they weren’t implemented.

The bar association notes that it has no position on the death penalty as means of punishment, but says it should be implemented equitably.

Phillips was convicted of raping and killing his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter. The now 43-year-old has been on death row for 23 years.