Monday, February 07, 2011

GUEST COLUMN: "Prosecutor’s Perspective on Death Penalty"

By Bruce McGary

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer recently asked Governor John Kasich to end capitol punishment in Ohio. Justice Pfeifer, one of the authors of Ohio’s Death penalty statute, now calls the death penalty a “lottery” and suggests that the Governor should commute the sentences of all defendants facing capitol punishment. The death penalty deters crime and ensures justice for victims and families. The system ensures a fair and accurate trial for every person who faces the death penalty.

Ohio currently has 157 people on death row. The death penalty in this state has been in existence since the early 1800’s. It was banned between 1972 and 1981, then re-enacted by a vote of the people. During its 200-year existence (excluding those 9 years) there were created considerable legal safeguards, as there should be, to prevent the innocent from being sentenced to death. The death penalty is only applied to a very few, heinous crimes.

According to, since 1975, only .3% of death row inmates have been found to be innocent, and released. During that same time period, nearly 100,000 people were murdered by parolees, probationers and other felons who were granted early release, according to the Brookings Institute.

The public supported the death penalty in 1981, and supports it now (according to a recent Newsweek article, 65% of the nation supports the death penalty). The public recognizes that there are a few horrible crimes committed by irredeemable criminals that deserve the death penalty. Still, the ACLU, the media, and Justice Pfeifer think they know better than voters, jurors, and victims.