Size of death row in Ohio is shrinking dramatically
The number of prisoners on Ohio’s death row is decreasing as new death sentences are outnumbered by inmates who are executed or die from other causes or are freed through clemency or appeals.
Ohio courts handed down just three new death sentences in 2012, while there were three death row inmates executed last year, another died in prison and one had his death sentence vacated, the Dayton Daily News reported .
Two inmates received clemency and life sentences from Gov. John Kasich and one was released on appeal because of prosecutorial misconduct in his case, leaving the number now on death row at 142, down from 204 in January 2003.
Nationwide, there were 77 new death sentences in 2012, according to the Death Penalty Information Center of Washington, D.C. That compares with the record 315 new death sentences U.S. courts handed down in 1996. Ohio’s three new sentences in 2012 were down from the record 24 in 1985.
Experts attribute the drop in recent years in the number of new death sentences in Ohio and other states with capital punishment to various factors, the newspaper reported.
Ohio Public Defender Tim Young said those factors include “evolving societal values” and a change in “the idea of what ‘the worst of the worst’ is.”
Also, the option of life without parole gives prosecutors more options in charging defendants and negotiating plea deals and gives juries the option of ensuring that killers are taken off the streets permanently without being executed.