The Supreme Court of Ohio has now set two execution dates in death penalty cases. In the first of these, State v. Philips, case number 94-2208, the order was signed by Justice Paul Pfeifer as acting Chief Justice, because Maureen O’Connor was once involved as a prosecutor in this case. Justice Pfeifer is the senior associate justice on the court.
Justice Pfeifer mentioned this order at his press conference opposing the death penalty as an example of how he is able to follow the law in death penalty cases despite his personal views. (read here about what Justice Pfeifer said at the press conference following his testimony in favor of H.B. 160, which would abolish the death penalty in Ohio).
According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, as of September 2011, there were 148 people on death row in Ohio. Of these, Hamilton county has the most at 28, followed by Cuyahoga (23) and Franklin (10) which are larger counties than Hamilton.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Ohio’s five executions in 2011 ranked third nationally behind Texas (13) and Alabama (6), and just ahead of Georgia andArizona (4 each). But the national trend is a decline in new death sentences. According to the Center, “the number of new death sentences dropped dramatically in 2011, falling below 100 for the first time in the modern era of capital punishment.”
In January, the Illinois legislature voted to repeal the death penalty, replacing it with a sentence of life without parole. This is what would happen in Ohio if H.B. 160 passes.
In November the Governor of Oregon declared a moratorium on the death penalty during his remaining tenure in office.