Death Delayed: Hope Gets a Chance
Death penalty supporters are going to have to wait awhile before another prisoner is executed in the state of Ohio because the Buckeye State has a governor with a conscience who’s willing to take a look at whether or not this punishment is being fairly applied.
On Jan. 19, Gov. Ted Strickland postponed three upcoming executions.
“In order to conduct a review that is as thorough and comprehensive as the previous administration pursued before death penalties were implemented, I have decided to issue reprieves,” Strickland said.
The delayed executions are Kenneth Biros, until March 20; James J. Filiaggi, until April 24; and Christopher J. Newton, until May 24.
Ohio now ranks twelfth in the number of executions carried out in the 38 states that have capital punishment laws. The total, 24, is calculated since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
When the U.S. Supreme Court originally ruled the death penalty unconstitutional, it said, in effect, that the stakes are so high that states have to put in place extraordinary measures to ensure that the rights of the accused are protected. That meant an exhaustive appeals process, funding public defenders and protections to make sure that the punishment is applied fairly. States rushed to put those things into place, and the death penalty was permitted again. The problem is that those protections have been eroded, and evidence of unfair treatment abounds.
Elected officials have been reluctant to take on this issue for fear of appearing soft on crime. In a punitive culture, that can mean the end of a career. Strickland is taking a limited but bold step. While the majority of Americans still want to kill criminals, they’re reluctant to see an innocent person put to death. The tide is turning against executions, albeit in a limited manner. So Strickland has a leg to stand on in making this decision.
Now the spotlight turns to how the death penalty applied in the state of Ohio.
— Margo Pierce