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Former Ohio Governor Joins Bipartisan Effort To Repeal Death Penalty

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland
Jay LaPrete
Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is officially joining the effort to repeal the death penalty, saying he regrets the way he handled capital punishment while he was in office. 

During the Democratic governor’s four years in office, 17 people were executed by the state. Strickland says he’s glad he put the death sentence aside for death row inmate Jeffrey Hill, who Strickland continues to believe could be innocent.

Strickland says Hill is likely not the only innocent man on death row.

“And it’s that reason, more than any other, I think we should eliminate the death penalty, and I regret the fact that I hadn’t taken that position when I became governor," Strickland says.

Strickland, along with state Sens. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) and Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), is backing a bipartisan bill from Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) to replace the death penalty with life without parole.

Antonio has introduced the measure four times since 2011, but it has never gone anywhere. This time, with even more bipartisan support, she's hoping the legislature will pass it. 

Antonio says the death penalty is morally wrong, expensive, creates painful appeals for victims and is unequally and unfairly applied. She says there is no way to correct mistakes.

"It's time for the state of Ohio to take the compassionate, pragmatic and economically prudent step to abolish the death penalty, which has been found to be expensive, impractical, unjust, inhumane and frankly, often erroneous," Antonio says.

Gov. Mike DeWine has delayed all executions since taking office last year, saying he won't put access to medications for state programs at risk just to acquire lethal injection drugs.

Manufacturers of those drugs had said they would consider stopping the sale of them to Ohio if the state continued to use them for executions.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.