Capital punishment is the ultimate sanction that a state can impose on a human being.
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O’Connor announced last week a committee that will review the state’s death penalty law and determine if changes should be made.
The announcement, however, came with a caveat: The committee won’t debate whether Ohio should have capital punishment.
Nevertheless, we see Justice O’Connor’s initiative a step in the right direction.
The review, 30 years after Ohio enacted its most recent death penalty law, will make sure the current system is administered fair, efficiently and in the most “judicious manner possible.”
The 20-member committee, convened by the Ohio Supreme Court and the Ohio State Bar Association, will consist of judges, prosecuting attorneys, criminal defense lawyers, lawmakers and academic experts.
After years of Democrats calling for such a review, as well as a moderate Republican colleague of O’Connor’s on the Supreme Court, it took the former prosecutor with a tough criminal justice reputation to put such a process in place.
For this, we commend Justice O’Connor who has roots to Greater Cleveland.
A 2005 review of 20 years of capital punishment data concluded that death sentences varied widely depending on where in the state charges were brought. The review also found people convicted of killing a White victim were twice as likely to receive a death sentence as those whose victim was Black.
Capital punishment is the ultimate sanction that a state can impose on a human being. Such is never to be taken lightly.
That is why this newspaper is pleased with Justice O’Connor’s call for a review of the death penalty.
It is the only right thing to do when such a sentence cannot be undone once carried out.