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Thread: Ohio Capital Punishment History

  1. #1
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010

    Ohio Capital Punishment History

    Capital punishment has been a part of Ohios justice system since early in the states history. From 1803, when Ohio became a state, until 1885, executions were carried out by public hanging in the county where the crime was committed. In 1885, the legislature enacted a law that required executions to be carried out at the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus. The first person to be executed at the Ohio Penitentiary was Valentine Wagner, age 56. Wagner, from Morrow County, was hanged for the murder of Daniel Shehan from Mt. Gilead. Twenty-eight convicted murderers were hanged at the penitentiary.

    In 1897, the electric chair, considered to be a more technologically advanced and humane form of execution, replaced the gallows. The first prisoner to be executed by electrocution was William Haas, a 17-year-old boy from Hamilton County, for the murder of Mrs. William Brady. The last person to be executed by electrocution in Ohio was Donald Reinbolt, a 29-year-old inmate from Franklin County, for the murder of Edgar L. Weaver, a Columbus grocer. He was executed on March 15, 1963. From 1897 to 1963 there were 315 persons put to death in the electric chair including three women.

    In 1972, the United States Supreme Court declared the death penalty to be unconstitutional. The decision reduced the death sentences of 65 Ohio inmates to life in prison. Also in 1972, Death Row was moved to the newly opened Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) at Lucasville.

    In 1974, the Ohio General Assembly revised Ohios Death Penalty law, but the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the new law in 1978. As a result, 120 condemned prisoners, including four women, had their sentences commuted to life in prison.

    After drafting a new law to reflect the strict criteria for the imposition of the death sentence, Ohio lawmakers enacted the current capital punishment statute, which took effect October 19, 1981. Leonard Jenkins of Cuyahoga County was the first to be sentenced under the current law. His sentence and the sentences of three other men and four women were later commuted to life by then Governor Richard Celeste during the last days of his tenure as governor in January 1991.

    The Franklin County Common Pleas Court found seven of the eight clemencies to have been improperly imposed (including Jenkins) and reinstated the death penalty of those inmates. They were returned to death row on February 14, 1992. One womans commutation, Beatrice Lampkin, was found to have been properly processed and was not challenged in the suit filed by the Ohio Attorney General. The 1992 decision was overturned early in 1997, and those seven clemencies have been subsequently reinstated.

    In 1993, a bill granting prisoners the option to choose between death by electrocution or lethal injection was passed and signed into law by former Governor George V. Voinovich. The Death Row inmate would be asked to choose between the two methods seven days before the scheduled execution. The law stipulated that if the prisoner did not choose, the default method of execution would be death by electrocution.

    In 1995 Death Row was relocated to the Mansfield Correctional Institution in Mansfield, Ohio. The "Death House" remains at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. All executions, whether male or female, take place at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.

    On February 19, 1999, inmate Wilford Berry, "The Volunteer", became the first inmate to be executed in Ohio since 1963. He voluntarily waived all of his appeals and selected lethal injection as the method of execution. To date, there have been eight inmate "volunteers" executed in the state of Ohio. Berry was serving a death sentence out of Cuyahoga County for the 1989 murder of Charles Mitroff.

    On August 21, 2001, DRC changed the time of scheduled executions from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 a.m. The change was implemented to take advantage of business hour resources as well as to reduce costs.

    On November 15, 2001, Governor Bob Taft signed House Bill 362 eliminating the electric chair as a form of execution. The only method of execution in Ohio is lethal injection.

    On February 26, 2002, Ohios electric chair, nicknamed "Old Sparky," was decommissioned and disconnected from service. The original electric chair was donated to the Ohio Historical Society on December 18, 2002, and a replica electric chair was donated to the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society.

    On June 26, 2003, inmate Donna Roberts became the first female on Ohio's death row since 1991 when then-Governor Celeste commuted the sentences of four women on Death Row to life in prison.

    On June 26, 2003, Governor Bob Taft commuted the sentence of inmate Jerome Campbell to life in prison without the possibility of parole. This was the first time that Governor Taft has exercised his right to grant executive clemency.

    In October 2005, DRC transferred death row from the Mansfield Correctional Institution to the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown. Death row for females is located at the Ohio Reformatory for Women.

    On January 9, 2008, Governor Ted Strickland commuted the sentence of inmate John Spirko to life in prison without parole eligibility. This was done after Spirko had received several reprieves from Governor Strickland while DNA testing was being conducted.

    On February 12, 2009, Governor Ted Strickland, in agreement with the recommendation from the Ohio Parole Board, commuted the sentence of inmate Jeffrey Hill to life with parole eligibility after 25 years.

    On November 30, 2009, DRC became the first state in the country to adopt a one-drug protocol for lethal injections. The revised protocol also includes a back up method for intramuscular injection, should vascular access be problematic. On December 8, 2009, Kenneth Biros was the first inmate put to death using the one-drug lethal injection protocol.

    On June 4, 2010, Governor Ted Strickland, in agreement with the recommendation from the Ohio Parole Board, commuted the sentence of inmate Richard Nields to life without the possibility of parole.

    On September 2, 2010, Governor Ted Strickland commuted the sentence of inmate Kevin Keith to life without the possibility of parole.

    On November 15, 2010, Governor Ted Strickland commuted the sentence of inmate Sidney Cornwell to life without the possibility of parole.

    To date, Ohio has executed a total of 384 convicted murderers.


  2. #2
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Controversial Artifacts Expose Ohio's Dark History

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio's old electric chair will be on public view for the first time in 80 years as part of a small exhibit at the state's history museum that will spotlight artifacts from the more provocative side of Ohio history.

    "History definitely isn't always pretty," exhibit curator Sharon Dean said Tuesday in announcing "Controversy: Pieces You Don't Normally See," opening April 1 at the Ohio Historical Center in Columbus.

    "The more we can stare some of things that aren't so pretty in the face, I think the more we can have honest, open discussions and start really working through some issues that, to date, have been fairly difficult," Dean said.

    Other pieces in the display, scheduled to run through Nov. 20, are: a 1920s Ku Klux Klan robe and hood; a 150-year-old sheepskin condom found in the diary of a steamboat captain; an aluminum mitt used in the early 20th century to stop children from sucking their thumbs; and a wooden cage used on state mental patients in the late 1800s.

    "It's a cage that was used for humans," Dean said. "The proper term was a crib-bed, and even at that time they found that it was a difficult restraint to use on people."

    Children under 18 will be barred from visiting the exhibit unless accompanied by an adult. The items will be displayed with bare-bones identifying labels in a small room fitting not more than 20 people -- to let the objects speak for themselves and to encourage visitors to talk about them, museum officials said.

    "We think this is one of the attributes of this exhibit, to generate conversations about complex issues in Ohio's history," said Burt Logan, executive director of the Ohio Historical Society, which oversees the historical center.

    The electric chair -- nicknamed "Old Sparky" -- was used to execute 312 and three women between 1897 and 1963.

    "If you look closely, it does show signs of wear on it, that a lot of people have, in fact, sat in it. But it's been maintained very well," Dean said.

    Ohio now carries out the death penalty through lethal injection. The last time members of the general public could see the chair was when the old Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus offered tours, which ended in the early 1930s.


  3. #3
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Ohio's electric chair on display in Cleveland----Museum hosts rare look at 'Old Sparky'

    Ohio's electric chair was used in the execution of 312 men and 3 women from 1897 to 1963 and now the chair is on display in Cleveland.

    It is part of an exhibit on capital punishment at the Cleveland Police Historical Society and Museum into November.

    "It's only the 2nd time it's been on display outside of the penitentiary," said Bob Cermak, a trustee with the museum. "It's an idea that the president of our board of trustees came up with, he thought it would be something unique to bring to the Cleveland area."

    Nicknamed "Old Sparky," the chair was a part of public tours of the Ohio Penitentiary until the 1930s.

    William Haas and William Wiley were both killed on the chair's 1st day of use, April 21, 1897. Haas was 17 years old.

    The last person to be executed in the electric chair was Donald Reinbolt in 1963.

    After the chair was decommissioned, the Ohio Historical Society took possession of it and stored it.

    It stayed in storage until they put it on display last year.

    "We're not here to talk about the right and the wrong or the good and the bad of the death penalty," said Cermak. "We're here to talk about the history of a part of what has gone on not only in the city of Cleveland and the state of Ohio but the world."

    Cleveland had public executions on Public Square. A section of the exhibit is dedicated to the hanging of William Adin in 1876.

    Adin killed 3 women, 2 with a hammer and 1, his wife, with an ax.

    "The sheriff used to sell tickets to the hangings," Cermak said. A framed display contains an original ticket, a newspaper clipping of the execution, a picture of Adin and his victims.

    Cermak said research showed a man, not the city, owned the gallows and took them around to 5 local counties to assist with the executions.

    In 1983, WEWS reporter Alan DePetro did a series of reports on the death penalty. 2 of those segments on the electric chair are part of the display.

    The display at the Cleveland Police Historical Society and Museum opened Monday and is free to the public. The museum operates weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is located on the 1st floor of Cleveland Police headquarters at 1300 Ontario Street.

    (source: Scripps Media)
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  4. #4
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Jan 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Timeline of capital punishment in Ohio

    A brief look at the history of capital punishment in Ohio:

    1803-1885: Executions are carried out as public hangings in the counties where the crimes were committed.

    1885: Executions are moved to the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus.

    1897: Electric chair replaces the gallows and a 17-year-old boy is the 1st prisoner to be electrocuted.

    March 15, 1963: The electric chair is used for the last time when Donald Reinbolt, 29, is put to death. The electric chair was used to put 315 people to death.

    1972: U.S. Supreme Court declares the death penalty is unconstitutional, reducing the death sentences for 65 inmates to life in prison. Death row is moved to Lucasville.

    1974: Ohio lawmakers revise the state death penalty law but it is rejected four years later by the U.S. Supreme Court. As a result, 120 condemned prisoners sentences are commuted to life in prison.

    Oct. 19, 1981: Current death penalty statute takes effect

    January 1991: Days before leaving office, Gov. Richard Celeste commutes the death sentences for 8 inmates to life in prison

    1993: Gov. George Voinovich signs a bill into law giving condemned prisoners a choice between electrocution and lethal injection, with the default method being lethal injection.

    Feb. 19, 1999: inmate Wilford Berry becomes the 1st inmate to be executed in Ohio since 1963. He voluntarily waived all of his appeals and opted for lethal injection.

    Nov. 15, 2001: Gov. Bob Taft signs a law that eliminated the electric chair as a form of execution.

    Feb. 26, 2002: Ohios electric chair Old Sparky is retired and later donated to the Ohio Historical Society.

    June 26, 2003: Taft commutes the sentence of Jerome Campbell to life in prison without parole.

    October 2005: Death row is moved from Mansfield to the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown.

    Jan 9, 2008: Gov. Ted Strickland commutes John Spirkos death sentence to life in prison without parole.

    Feb. 12, 2009: Strickland commutes the sentence of inmate Jeffrey Hill to life with parole eligibility after 25 years.

    Nov. 30, 2009: Ohio becomes the 1st state to adopt a 1-drug protocol for lethal injections.

    June 4, 2010: Ted Strickland commutes Richard Nields sentence to life without parole.

    Sept. 2, 2010: Strickland commutes Kevin Keiths sentence to life without parole.

    Nov. 15, 2010: Strickland commutes Sidney Cornwells sentence to life without parole.

    May 2011: Gov. John Kasich commutes Shawn Hawkins sentence to life without parole.

    Sept. 26, 2011: Kasich commutes Joseph Murphys sentence to life without parole.

    January 2012: Death row is moved to Chillicothe Correctional Institution.

    June 10, 2012: Kasich commutes John Eleys sentence to life without parole.

    Dec. 17, 2012: Kasich commutes Ron Posts sentence to life without parole.

    To date, Ohio has executed a total of 391 convicted murderers.

    [source: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction]

    (source: Dayton Daily News)
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  5. #5
    Moderator Ryan's Avatar
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    Oct 2013
    Newport, United Kingdom
    Ohio joins growing number of states stopping executions

    In late January, Ohio’s newly-elected governor, Mike DeWine, granted a six-month reprieve to Warren Keith Henness. Recently, DeWine halted all executions in the state until the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction is able to develop a new execution protocol approved by the courts. Ohio joins Pennsylvania and six other states with some sort of formal hold on executions.

    DeWine’s “moratorium” on executions comes in response to Dayton Federal Magistrate Judge Michael Merz’s opinion suggesting the state’s current 3-drug execution protocol is a combination of “waterboarding and a chemical fire.”

    “If Ohio executes Warren Henness under its present protocol, it will almost certainly subject him to severe pain and needless suffering ... enough to constitute cruel and unusual punishment,” wrote Judge Merz.

    He did not stop Henness’ execution but De- Wine, who sponsored Ohio’s capital punishment law as a state senator in 1981 and later represented the state in death-penalty cases as attorney general, did.

    This is not Judge Merz’s 1st shot at Ohio’s death penalty. Two years ago, he ruled that there was a “substantial risk of serious harm” in using midazolam, a sedative for executions. He granted an injunction blocking all executions.

    A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to uphold the injunction. The panel also barred the use of any protocol that contained potassium chloride, which stops the heart, and any drug that acts as a paralytic agent.

    The case returned to the 6th Circuit to be heard en banc – all of the judges would rehear the case. This time, in an 8-6 ruling the 6th Circuit rejected Merz’s injunction.

    Twice in 2 years Judge Merz found lethal injection in Ohio violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. This is in spite of a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision out of Kentucky that ruled lethal injection was not cruel and unusual punishment. In fact, the Supreme Court has never found a method of execution to be cruel and unusual. That list includes hanging, firing squad, electric chair and gas chamber.

    This latest twist in Ohio’s death-penalty saga is in stark contrast to the state’s recent history with the death penalty. Between 2009 and 2011, Ohio carried out 17 executions second only to Texas, a state that has carried out more executions than the other top 5 states combined.

    4 of those 17 men executed – Jason Getsy, Kenneth Biros, Mark Brown and Roderick Davies – were from either Trumbull or Mahoning counties.

    There is real concern about Ohio’s death chamber. The state has had its share of executions gone awry.

    In 2009, Romell Broom was scheduled to be executed. Corrections officials tried for two hours to maintain an IV for injecting the lethal drugs, reported the Washington Post. Finally, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland intervened. Broom survived his execution and remains on death row today.

    In 2014, Ohio became the 1st state in the nation to use a new and untried lethal-injection protocol involving midazolam and hydromorphone, a sedative and morphine derivative.

    It did not go well. Convicted killer Dennis McGuire took 25 minutes to die. Prior executions took about 12 to 15 minutes. McGuire appeared to gasp several times during the execution, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

    He made several loud snorting or snoring sounds during the time it took him to die. It was one of the long- est executions since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999, reported the Associated Press.

    In November of 2017, 69-year-old Alva Campbell was scheduled to die by lethal injection. Campbell’s attorney said he watched as his client was stuck with needles 4 times in different parts of his body, and cried out in pain.

    After about 25 minutes, Ohio Gov. John Kasich halted the execution, reported NBC News. For the second time in less than 10 years a condemned inmate in Ohio survived his execution. Campbell died of natural causes 3 months later.

    DeWine did not say when he expects executions to resume, “[a]s long as the status quo remains, where we don’t have a protocol that has been found to be OK, we certainly cannot have any executions in Ohio.”

    "How do you get drunk on death row?" - Werner Herzog

    "When we get fruit, we get the juice and water. I ferment for a week! It tastes like chalk, it's nasty" - Blaine Keith Milam #999558 Texas Death Row

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