Home Law The Counter Opinion: Should Ohio keep the death penalty?

The Counter Opinion: Should Ohio keep the death penalty?

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A lethal injection room much like the ones in Ohio.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has put a moratorium on carrying out executions until the state of Ohio can demonstrate the drugs it uses for capital punishment are not a cruel and unusual, sparking new debate over the future of the death penalty.

We asked our opinion writers what they thought of DeWine’s moratorium. Contributing writers are Charlotte Caldwell, a freshman journalism major, Katie Nolan, a sophomore environmental studies major, and Tim Zelina, a junior journalism major.


Should Ohio continue to enforce the death penalty?

Charlotte: Ohio should continue to enforce the death penalty, but only in the case of confirmed murderers. If the case has not brought forth all the evidence needed to make a fair judgement or the convict is suspected to be innocent under very convincing evidence, they should be sentenced to life in prison, not death row. In the case of former death row inmate Joe D’Ambrosio, he turned out to be innocent, and was only placed on death row because the prosecutor’s office withheld 10 pieces of evidence during his trial. In a case like this, he shouldn’t have received death row, but life in prison until the case could be sorted out.

Tim: No, the death penalty is a punishment that deprives people of their right to justice. According to Amnesty International, 151 death row inmates have been released after it was revealed they did not commit the crime they were accused of doing. Our courts are tasked with justice, not vengeance. The possibility of killing someone innocent is not worth getting revenge on monsters. We already expect our courts to only punish people who are guilty beyond reasonable doubt, and still they make mistakes. There is no possible compensation or early release for a dead convict. Every execution is a travesty of justice.

Katie: Ohio should not continue to enforce the death penalty. It should not be the place of the law to execute anyone, no matter the charges brought against them. It should be justice enough that these convicts are being locked away for life. What is most worrying is that there is the chance that death row inmates have been wrongfully convicted of a crime. Thankfully, many of these cases have been exonerated before death.

Still, people were wrongfully convicted and suffered criminal punishment that was undeserved, losing years of their lives to a corrupt system. If their execution dates had been sooner, or their appeals cases had not been handled properly, innocent people would have been killed. Others have not been as fortunate. In a 1992 trial rehashed by the New York Times in 2009, a man in Texas was wrongfully convicted of murdering his family by way of arson and was put to death. The story is extremely moving and very telling of the way capital punishment can be irreparably immoral.


Are lethal injections a cruel and unusual punishment?


Charlotte: I beleive that lethal injections are a cruel and unusual punishment with Ohio’s current three-drug lethal injection protocol. The highly controversial drug, Midazolam, has been said to not render people deeply unconscious enough, and inmates could suffer an experience similar to waterboarding. If Ohio can come up with a drug cocktail that doesn’t cause an inmate any pain and renders them completely unconscious, then it shouldn’t be considered a cruel and unusual punishment.

Tim: Drug cocktails seem like a merciful way to go; ideally, the person would simply fall asleep and never wake up. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always occur. Over seven percent of lethal injections were ‘botched,’ in many cases leaving victims in excruciating pain before they die. While there is no dignified way to execute someone, a civil society should not seek to inflict unnecessary suffering on even the worst of criminals. Drug cocktails are simply cruel.

Katie: Comparatively, lethal injection is a more humane way of carrying out capital punishment than more antiquated methods like the electric chair. However, there are still many problems with lethal injections. In one Ohio case, a death row inmate took 26 minutes to die, which was much longer than expected. The fact that this person had to go through such a long death when the point of this method is to be quick and painless proves the faulty status of lethal injections.

What should Gov. DeWine do to address concerns with the death penalty?


Charlotte: DeWine has done all that he can without getting rid of the death penalty altogether by halting executions until a new drug is found to complete the process. DeWine recognizes that the current drug combination could be considered unconstitutional under cruel and unusual punishment and is trying to appeal to both sides on the issue by halting executions temporarily.

Tim: While it may be difficult to outright abolish the death penalty, as Republicans control both chambers of Ohio’s legislature, he can effectively end the process by refusing to carry out any further executions. This would put Ohio on track to ending this archaic punishment for good.

Katie: As governor, DeWine has already announced the halting of executions in order to figure out a new protocol. So far in his career, DeWine has been supportive of Ohio’s death penalty laws. The moral thing to do would be to abolish capital punishment in Ohio. There are too many flaws in this system, and keeping very dangerous criminals with no chance of parole is both more cost-effective and less ethically debilitating.

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