Co-author of Ohio death penalty says law ‘should be repealed’

By David Edwards
Thursday, December 15, 2011 15:57 EDT
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Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer
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An Ohio Supreme Court justice is calling on lawmakers to repeal the state’s death penalty law — even though he helped write it.

Testifying before an Ohio House of Representatives committee hearing, Justice Paul Pfeifer insisted that the state was “no longer well-served by our death penalty statute and it should be repealed.”

“This is where the decision is made as to what should be the ultimate penalty,” he told lawmakers. “I have concluded that the death sentence makes no sense to me at this point when you can have life without possibility of parole. I don’t see what society gains from that.”

Democratic state Reps. Nickie Antonio and Ted Celeste are hoping to do just that by sponsoring House Bill 160, which would outlaw capital punishment and resentence current death row inmates to life in prison without parole.

“[T]he bill you have before you is a good and important place to start,” the justice said.

Pfeifer was serving on the Ohio Senate’s Judiciary Committee in 1981 when the death penalty was reinstated. Since then, 46 inmates have been put to death. Even with a six-month hiatus, only two states executed more people than Ohio in 2011. At least 12 more will die by September 2013 under the current schedule.

“Abolishing the death penalty would be a needed improvement,” Pfeifer told reporters following the hearing. “It will happen. Will it happen today, tomorrow, in this session of the General Assembly? More problematic. … but the day will come when Ohio no longer has a death penalty.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s (R) office has already signaled that he is not open to repeal efforts.

Watch this video from Ohio Capital Blog, uploaded Dec. 14, 2011.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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