(The Center Square) – In the wake of Alabama carrying out a death sentence with the use of nitrogen gas, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and some lawmakers want to kick start the state’s death penalty that has been stalled since 2019.
At a news conference Tuesday, Rep. Brian Stewart, R-Ashville, said nitrogen has been made available following the Alabama execution and plans to introduce legislation to make it available in Ohio.
Capital punishment “is the law of the land today, and we believe it should continue to be an eligible punishment for those convicted of the most heinous crimes in our state,” Stewart said. “As long as capital punishment remains the law, that law must be enforced, and those sentences carried out.”
Second-term Republican Gov. Mike DeWine began a moratorium on Ohio executions in 2019 when he first took office and has said recently he does not expect any to take place throughout the end of his term in 2027.
In 2020, DeWine said the state could get lethal injection drugs and told lawmakers they would have to find a different method to put inmates to death.
Since that time, according to Stewart, 100 other people have been put to death in other states. Death row in Ohio has 123 people. The last execution carried out was July 18, 2018.
“I support this law, saying the law of Ohio should be thwarted because pharmaceutical companies don’t want to sell the chemicals is an abdication of the sovereignty of the state of Ohio, which still has this law on its books,” Yost said. “I am aware of the moral weight of this debate, but this is the law of the land. If we wish to break the promises we made to the families of all these victims, then we owe it to our society and to all those that are involved to own our decision to change our mind.”
Allison Cohen, executive director of Ohioans to Stop Executions, called on lawmakers to change their minds and abolish the death penalty.
“Claiming that the adoption of nitrogen hypoxia executions ‘fixes’ the death penalty ignores all of the systemic failures that have led to greater suffering for the families of victims,” Cohen said. “Ohio has other means of holding people accountable for their actions and keeping our society safe without retraumatizing the families of victims and placing additional burdens on our prison staff. Ohioans to Stop Executions calls on the legislature to choose the option that affirms the value of life – abolishing the death penalty.”
As previously reported by The Center Square, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill in March to end the death penalty in Ohio and move the state to life without parole for capital crimes.
That bill remains in committee in the Senate.