Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has issued the 2020 Capital Crimes Report, an annual accounting and procedural history of each case that has resulted in a death sentence in Ohio since 1981, the year the state’s current death penalty law was enacted.
From 1981 through 2020, the report says, a total of 140 death sentences remained active, with many under review in state and federal courts. Last year, one individual received a death sentence and was added to death row.
Since the law’s creation 40 years ago, 336 people have been sentenced to death in Ohio. Five of those people received two death sentences, resulting in a total of 341 death sentences. Fifty-six of the death sentences – one of every six – have been carried out, the executive summary says, noting that nearly the same number of death row inmates have avoided execution, 21 by having their sentences commuted, 33 by dying of natural causes or suicide before the sentence could be imposed. Eight have been removed because they are intellectually disabled and, therefore, constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty.
Yost said delays in the judicial system have compounded the issue. At the end of 2020, there were 23 death penalty cases that had been pending for more than 10 years in federal district court. An additional nine federal cases have seen no activity for two years. There were seven cases pending in state courts that have seen no activity in the past two years. There were 11 death penalty cases for which state and federal reviews have been completed but the prosecution has yet to file a motion with the Ohio Supreme Court to set a date for the sentence to be carried out.