Now that the Supreme Court has settled the Constitutional issue, the battle to abolish capital punishment moves to the states. In Ohio, bills to abolish the death penalty have been introduced in both chambers of the legislature. Ohio House Bill 289 was introduced by Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Representative Niraj J. Antani (R-Miami Township). Ohio Senate Bill 154 was introduced by Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo).
The lone Republican in the list of sponsors and co-sponsors, Representative Niraj J. Antani, describes himself as pro-life and for small government. He is one a small group of legislators who apply the same moral principles to both abortion and capital punishment.
I have written to my state senator, Cecil Thomas, a former police officer. In my letter, I mentioned my idea of a compromise, which would allow the death penalty to be applied to cop killers. It turns out that nobody, not even this former police officer, likes this idea. Here is the complete text of the reply from his office (used with permission):
Thank you for reaching out to Senator Thomas to express your views on the death penalty. The Senator always enjoys hearing from his constituents and uses your input to form his positions on issues.
Senator Thomas has been a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 154 since its introduction because he opposes the death penalty in all cases. He recognizes the moral and religious questions surrounding the death penalty, as well as concerns over executing innocent people. In fact, Senator Thomas and I spent about an hour with 3 former death row inmates later exonerated by either DNA evidence or recanted testimony just a few months ago.
It is also notable that you mentioned the discrepancies that often exist in the legal resources of capital defendants and the prosecutorial team. Because of these discrepancies, those executed on capital offenses are disproportionately poor people of color. For these and other reasons, Senator Thomas supports Senate Bill 154, which would abolish the death penalty. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions on this or any other issue.
State Senator Cecil Thomas
Similar bills abolishing capital have been introduced before in Ohio, to no avail. However, momentum is building around the country: just this July, Illinois became the 19th state to abolish the death penalty.
Now would be a good time to write your Ohio state representative and senator. If you have lost track of who your state legislators are, find out at this friendly web site: https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislators/find-my-legislators.
With God’s help, and a little old fashioned activism, we can make Ohio the next state to abolish this barbaric practice.