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Ohio Supreme Court to Address Racial Bias in Execution Cases

By Hannah McCartney · July 25th, 2012 · City Desk
Ohio’s death penalty came under scrutiny July 19, when the Ohio Supreme Court’s Death Penalty Task Force heard presentations from three subcommittees on strategies to make sure death penalty sentencing in Ohio is transparent and fair. 

The task force heard presentations from the Law Enforcement Subcommittee, Race and Ethnicity Subcommittee and Clemency Subcommittee. 

The Race and Ethnicity Subcommittee presented recommendations for dealing with evidence of longstanding racial bias in Ohio death penalty cases. 

A 2005 Associated Press study found that offenders who killed white victims were significantly more likely to be executed than when victims were black, regardless of the race of the defendant. 

Three of seven recommendations from the Supreme Court’s Race and Ethnicity subcommittee passed, including a mandate that all attorneys and judges in death penalty cases attend training to combat racial bias, and that attorneys must seek recusal of judges who are suspected of racial discrimination.

Task forces typically submit a final report to the Ohio Supreme Court for input, a process that might not be completed until into 2013. 

The recommendation that all death penalty-eligible homicide cases be maintained and monitored for racial bias by the Ohio Public Defender was tabled for a Sept. 27 meeting. 

Ohio’s death penalty has come under fire several times in the last year, even experiencing an extended moratorium when a judge ruled that Ohio wasn’t following its own death penalty procedure and couldn’t be trusted to administer executions.



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