Emerging Polls Indicate Majority Support for Abolishing Death Penalty in Ohio

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By Vivian Nguyen

COLUMBUS, OH – Emerging poll data from the No Death Penalty Ohio coalition finds majority support, statewide, for the abolishment of the death penalty in Ohio.

Moreover, policymakers share this support, with bills being introduced at the level of the house and senate to replace the death penalty with a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

The ACLU of Ohio cites a study “conducted by The Tarrance Group between September 18 and September 22, 2023 (including) online interviews with 600 registered voters in Ohio” that “reflect the view of Ohio voters of all major demographic groups, political affiliations, and geographical regions throughout Ohio.”

In a one-page summary of poll results, the No Death Penalty Ohio coalition reported when “asked if Ohio should do away with the death penalty and replace it with a life sentence for murder without the possibility of parole, 56 percent of respondents said yes.”

The group said the number of respondents saying yes increased by two percentage points to 58 percent, when asked if “the Ohio Governor should sign a law replacing the death penalty with a life sentence without the possibility of parole.” Similar numbers of agreeing respondents (56-57 percent) were found for similar statements expressing support for the elimination of the death penalty.

Jocelyn Rosnick, policy director for the ACLU of Ohio, said “whether it’s due to racial disparity, fiscal or innocence concerns, people all across the state and across the aisle believe that it’s time for Ohio to cut ties with the death penalty.”

Allison Cohen, executive director of Ohioans to Stop Executions, added, “Ohioans understand that the system can’t be fixed, can’t be applied fairly and any attempt to do so is both a waste of money and fundamental misunderstanding of where Ohio’s values are aligned. The people of Ohio want to protect and sustain life, which means abolishing the death penalty.”

The No Death Penalty Ohio coalition claims Ohioans recognize “it would be more cost-effective to replace the death penalty with a sentence of life without the possibility of parole,” given findings from the Legislative Service Commission that “the cost of imposing a death sentence could cost taxpayers up to $384 million.”

Beyond fiscal reasons, the coalition also outlines the death penalty’s failure to deter crime, racial disparity, and claim, on innocent lives, noting “the death penalty has repeatedly been shown not to be an effective deterrent to crime,” as “Black or African American people make up 13.3 percent of Ohio’s population and 55.8 percent of Ohio’s death row,” and since 1973, “about one out of every 25 people sentenced to death in Ohio have later been found to be innocent.”

The ACLU of Ohio insists that in light of new methods, such as Alabama’s execution of “Kenneth Smith with nitrogen hypoxia—an untested method that UN experts warned could amount to torture in violation of human rights treaties,” efforts for abolition become increasingly necessary.

Allison Reynolds-Berry, executive director of Ignite Peace, said there is a moral justification beyond the empirical data, adding, “people of conscience and people of faith know that each of us is more than the worst thing we have done. It is time we abolish a system that is unfairly applied, ineffective, and unwanted by the people of Ohio.”

Rosnick notes “to date, 23 states plus Washington D.C. have repealed the death penalty, Ohio can and should be the 24th.”

“At the Ohio Statehouse, a bipartisan team of lawmakers have introduced Senate Bill 101 and House Bill 259, legislation that would abolish the death penalty in Ohio once and for all” the ACLU of Ohio reports

As “the public groundswell in favor of repealing the death penalty continues to grow” and “there is unprecedented, bipartisan support” at the Statehouse, the No Death Penalty Ohio coalition maintains “SB 101 and HB 259 can end the death penalty in Ohio once and for all.”

About The Author

Vivian is a first year at UC Berkeley exploring the fields of Political Science and Philosophy. She is deeply interested in criminal justice, court proceedings, and public trust in legal systems. Working alongside the Vanguard, she hopes to advance transparency in local court systems and promote criminal justice. In her free time, Vivian loves to read, hangout with her dog, roadtrip, and pick up miscellaneous hobbies.

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