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Thousands of Ohioans Urge Governor to Not Resume Executions

Four executions are scheduled in Ohio this year, the first next Wednesday.(Flickr)
Four executions are scheduled in Ohio this year, the first next Wednesday.(Flickr)
July 20, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Calls to end capital punishment are ramping up ahead of Ohio's first execution in three years.

On Wednesday, death penalty opponents delivered a petition signed by 27,000 people to Gov. John Kasich, asking that Ronald Phillips’ execution, set for next week, be commuted.

Andrea Koverman, program manager at the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center in Cincinnati, says those who are against the death penalty include people of faith, correctional officers, exonerated death row inmates and the families of victims.

"There are vigils for citizens to gather in prayer and in solidarity with both the inmate and in remembrance of the victims,” she states. “So many people are affected by a crime. Right now we're focusing on one person, but there's a wide, wide circle of people who have been affected over these last 24 years."

A moratorium was put on executions in Ohio in January 2014 after it took 26 minutes for Dennis McGuire to die during lethal injection.

Observers said McGuire appeared to choke and struggle for 10 minutes.

Officials have had difficulty obtaining lethal injection drugs ever since, and now say they have enough of a new pharmaceutical combination.

Phillips, 45, is the first of four death row inmates scheduled for execution this year.

Some people oppose capital punishment because they believe it is a misuse of precious resources, while others are against it for moral and ethical reasons.

Koverman is imploring all Ohioans to examine their own conscious on the issue.

"If they do support the death penalty, what's the reasoning behind that?” she questions. “If it's still the 'eye for an eye' mentality, that's really a pretty rudimentary and barbaric position to hold at this point. I would hope that we would be evolving in our compassion as human beings."

Koverman contends that if executions are to resume, better safeguards must be in place.

After McGuire's botched execution, the Ohio Supreme Court Joint Task Force made dozens of recommendations to improve execution safeguards, none of which has been implemented.

This collaboration is produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded by the George Gund Foundation.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH