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New Poll Finds Majority Of Ohioans Support Ending Death Penalty

In this November 2005 file photo, Larry Greene, public information director of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, demonstrates how a curtain is pulled between the death chamber and witness room at the prison in Lucasville, Ohio.
Kiichiro Sato
Associated Press

A new statewide poll finds more Ohioans than not want to end the death penalty. 

The ACLU and Ohioans To Stop Executions released the poll on Thursday. It shows that 59% of Ohio voters support replacing the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Support of ending capital punishment differed by party.  Sixty nine percent of Democrats and 53% of Republicans agreed that the state should end the death penalty.

“This poll in Ohio confirms what we’ve been hearing across the state– which is that voters oppose the death penalty,” said Jocelyn Rosnick, Policy Director for the ACLU of Ohio said in an emailed statement. “Whether it’s due to racial disparity, fiscal or innocence concerns, people all across the state and across the aisle believe that its’ time for Ohio to cut ties with the death penalty. Ohio won’t be the first state to pass a full repeal, and we shouldn’t be the last.”

The ACLU and OTSE estimate ending death penalty trials would save as much as $16 million per case.

Ohio currrently has 139 people on its death row. A majority of the death row inmates, 56%, are people of color.  People of color make up only 15% of the state’s population.

Gov, Mike DeWine has said the state has an “unofficial moratorium” on the death penalty since lethal injection drugs are unavailable.

Death penalty supporters say capital punishment is needed as a deterrent to crime.

The study conducted by the Tarrance Group over a three-day period last fall included 600 registered voters.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.