COLUMBUS, Ohio — A state senator from Lakewood has introduced bipartisan legislation to abolish the death penalty in the State of Ohio.
According to a press release sent out from the Office of State Sen. Nickie J. Antonio, the legislator is hoping to end the controversial punishment and replace it with a sentence of life without parole.
“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.”
Several other Ohio congress members from the Northeast Ohio area joined Antonio in her calls for the abolition of the death penalty, including Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) and State Sen. Sandra R. Williams (D-Cleveland).
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"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. Huffman, who sponsored 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.”
Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus) agreed with the statements from his colleagues, saying "it is time to end the death penalty – it is a moral issue; it is a national security issue. 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.”
Republican Representative Jean Schmidt from Miami Township stated that she has changed her own position on the issue of the death penalty in the past several years in a statement agreeing with the other Ohio lawmakers.
“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.”
Ohioans to Stop Executions, Witness to Innocence, the Ohio Catholic Conference, the Ohio Council of Churches, and other groups have also spoken out in favor of Antonio's push.
This isn't the first time that Sen. Antonio has introduced legislation to abolish the death penalty in the Buckeye State. In 2011, she introduced a similar bill, which failed to pass.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Ohio has carried out 56 executions since 1976 and currently has inmates on death row.
In December, Ohio. Gov. Mike DeWine said that he no longer supports the use of lethal injections in executions.
The bill will be formally introduced in the coming weeks.