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Yost’s report pushes for return to death penalty in Ohio

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(The Center Square) – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost continues to push state lawmakers to change the state’s capital punishment system, which has not carried out a sentence in more than five years.

Yost’s annual Capital Crime Report, required by law, gives a procedural history and other information in every case that has resulted in a death sentence since reinstatement of the death penalty in 1981.

“No criminal penalty – capital or otherwise – should carry an empty promise of justice,” Yost said. “Ohioans on both sides of the death penalty debate can agree that our current system of capital punishment is unworkable, and something needs to change.”

From 1981 through the end of last year, 336 people have received a combined 341 death sentences, according to the report. Fifty-six of those have been carried out.

There are 119 inmates on death row.

Cuyahoga County has issued the highest number of death sentences at 70, followed by Hamilton County with 62 and Franklin County with 21. The most active death sentences are also in Cuyahoga with 18.

According to the report, condemned inmate spends an average of more than 21 years awaiting their sentence to be carried out – primarily due to the numerous avenues for appeal – before an execution date is set.

Also contributing to delays is the reluctance of pharmaceutical suppliers to provide lethal injection drugs for executions, Yost’s report said.

As previously reported by The Center Square, Yost and Rep. Brian Stewart, R-Ashville, called for the resumption of carrying out death sentences after Alabama executed a man using nitrogen gas in late January.

That bill has yet to have a hearing in the House.

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.

The state’s last execution came July 18, 2018, when Robert Van Hook was put to death by lethal injection for killing a man he met at a Cincinnati bar in 1985.

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