Home Opinion OPINION: Ohio’s death penalty is back, and that’s a good thing

OPINION: Ohio’s death penalty is back, and that’s a good thing

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Some people would argue that the death penalty is inhumane or a waste of time and money. Opinion writer Dawson Mecum disagrees. 

Controversial political topics always seem to rotate between election years. But there are certain issues that are always at the top of the list and will stay there for as long as America has free speech. The death penalty is and forever will be one of the most controversial issues when it comes to modern politics. Those who oppose the death penalty accuse those who support it of being unethical and immoral, when in reality, the death penalty is necessary to serve and protect future victims.

Over the summer, Ohio had its first execution since 2014. Ronald Phillips was 19 years old when he committed one of the most heinous of crimes. Phillips was convicted of raping and murdering Sheila Marie Evans, his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter, in Akron in 1993. The execution was put on hold due to Phillips and two other inmates challenging that the usage of certain drugs in capital punishment was cruel and unusual.

The real cruel and unusual punishment was the rape and murder of a 3-year-old girl who never got to enjoy the life that was in front of her, and who never got to have those moments of childhood that we cherish and hold onto so dearly. But to some, the death penalty is an uncivilized idea that has no place in a civilized country like America.

The death penalty is a last resort option.  The death penalty should not be about closure or revenge. It should simply be about bringing justice to those who commit crimes against humanity.

A life sentence in Ohio where the offense is second degree murder  is 15 years to life. So, what happens when the accused is released? According to the Institute of Justice, about 76.6 percent of released prisoners are rearrested, and of those prisoners who were released, 56.7 percent were arrested within their first year of being released. The death penalty makes sure that those who are convicted of rape, aggravated murder or any other heinous crime do not have the chance to harm anyone else. It negates the possibility of these criminals hurting anyone else.

The cost of the death penalty, however, is a concern. According to a study done by The Dayton Daily News, the cost of the death penalty in Ohio is an estimated $3 million per death penalty case, including execution per inmate. In comparison, the average cost of life without parole is estimated to be about $1 million. About $16 million in funds is used to maintain the death penalty in Ohio. While some argue these funds could be used in a more efficient way, it should be the price of saved lives and justice that matters more.

The death penalty should be done right, as well. In January of 2014, the same drug that was used in the Phillips execution was used in another where the inmate took an unusually long time to die. Witness reports say that the man struggled and was visibly in pain once the drug was administered. Drugs administered to inmates placed on death row should meet medical requirements and cause as little suffering as possible.  

According to a study led by Samuel Gross at the University of Michigan, the true number of wrongly accused people sentenced to the death penalty is unknowable, but estimated to be between 1.6 and 4 percent. This number should continue to go down with the improvements in technology and advances in the criminal justice field.

The death penalty does have a hint of uncertainty wrapped around it. With the constant changes between crime rates and executions, it is nearly impossible to determine whether the death penalty deters crime with the studies that have been conducted. The uncertainty of the deterrence rate brings the argument to a standstill.

The death penalty does not necessarily deter criminals from committing these heinous crimes, but what it does make sure of is that these evil and uncivilized human beings can never harm another soul, and that is the goal of justice —  to make it easier for people to sleep at night knowing there is one less criminal out there.

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  2. C

    September 20, 2017 at 11:12 AM

    Well put. I say screw the shots, bring back public decapitation.
    Just be sure to sterilize the axe, amirite?


  3. Alumni

    September 20, 2017 at 4:00 PM

    This article provides a false dichotomy between the death penalty and murdering rapists getting out after 15 years. There are ways to ensure people receive actual life sentences with no chance of release. Also the main argument is that the death penalty is the only way to guarantee violent people are not released again and commit more violence. Assault is a violent crime, should everyone convicted of assault be put to death? Any maybe the statistic of re-incarceration rate is a failing of our justice system. I’m also pro-death penalty, but that’s just because I’m a vengeful person and not for any other of your bullshit reasons.


  4. Dudley Sharp

    September 27, 2018 at 3:56 PM

    Please fact check the Gross study and the costs studies.


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