Capital punishment in Ohio could see changes - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Capital punishment in Ohio could see changes

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After two years of study and debate, capital punishment in Ohio could see some changes.

A 22-person panel, which included Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and Clermont County Sheriff A.J. Rodenberg, created a 79 page report.

Included in the report are 56 recommendations designed to promote fairness in death penalty cases for everyone involved -- including the state, the defendants and victims.

Taking a second look at something is generally a good idea. That's what Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor thought when it came to the state's policy on the death penalty.

"She didn't want a discussion to get going about should we have one or not," said Rodenberg. "It's basically, we've got one, how can we make it more fair?"

Rodenberg was on that panel. For two years, a lot of back and forth led to the report which includes nearly 5 dozen recommendations.

"I think the idea was to make it more fair for everybody. When you say everybody, we mean prosecution, defense, defendants, victims and society," said Rodenberg

Fights over drugs for injections and botched executions in Oklahoma and Ohio in January have again sparked the debate.

While none of these recommendations pertain to that, any second look at the state's system is welcome.

"We've had problems with executions. We've had problems with drugs. We've had problems getting the right person. The prudent thing to do is to make sure we're putting in place all the appropriate safeguards," said Kevin Werner with Ohioans to Stop Executions.

Ohioans to Stop Executions is a loud voice against the death penalty. The recommendations will not abolish the punishment here, but they are satisfying.

"We think that the death penalty is outdated.  But, where we do agree with people on the other side of this issue is that it's got to be fair and it's got to be accurate," said Werner.

As for the next move, the recommendations head to the Supreme Court and legislators hopefully addressing what Rodenberg says was the biggest concern.

"We don't want anyone executed who isn't clearly guilty," he said.

Some panel members issued a 50 page "minority report."

In it, they challenge some of the initial report's findings. They say the task force veered off its mandate and is making anti-death penalty recommendations.

You can view both reports in their entirety here: 

Supreme Court of Ohio and The Ohio State Bar Association Joint Task Force:

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1156870-supreme-court-of-ohio-osba-joint-task-force-to.html

Minority Report

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1156869-minority-report-final.html

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