Capital punishment declines nationwide, report shows

DeWine says Ohio needs new execution method

Executions in states dropped to the lowest level in 37 years and new death sentences were the fewest in the modern era in 2020, according to a national report by the Death Penalty Information Center.

The annual report said Colorado became the 22nd state to abolish capital punishment while a dozen other states have gone a decade or more without an execution.

The report comes as Gov. Mike DeWine this month told the Associated Press that lethal injection is no longer an option in Ohio because the drugs are unavailable for executions. Lethal injection is the only execution method authorized under state law, which means legislators would have to agree on a new method for executions to resume in Ohio.

In 2014, an Ohio Supreme Court task force called for sweeping changes to the state’s death penalty system, including a prohibition on executing offenders who suffered from serious mental illness.

While states seem to be slowing the pace of executions and new death sentences, the federal government executed 10 people in 2020 -- eclipsing the six executed in four states, according to the report.

Credit: Death Penalty Information Center

Credit: Death Penalty Information Center

Ohio adopted its current death penalty statute in 1981. Ohio has 137 men and one woman on death row.

Gallup Poll shows 55% of Americans favor capital punishment while 43% oppose it. In the mid-90s, the same poll showed 80% supported and 16% opposed.

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