Ohio is planning to execute nearly two dozen men who have suffered childhood trauma, serious mental illness and intellectual impairment, according to the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard University.
“We found that these men are among the most impaired and traumatized among us — a pattern replicated across America’s death rows,” the project said in a 13-page report to be released today. “At least 17 out of the 26 men experienced serious childhood trauma — horrifying instances of extensive physical and sexual abuse.”
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Six of the Ohio death row inmates suffer from mental illness and at least seven have IQ scores below 85, the report said. The group argues that those with intellectual impairments are not eligible for the death penalty and those with mental illnesses should not be executed.
Ohio adopted its current death penalty statute in 1981. Since executions resumed in 1999, Ohio has put 54 men to death and has 26 more executions scheduled through 2020. There are 139 inmates on Ohio Death Row.
In 2014, a task force appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court offered 56 ways to improve the capital punishment system in Ohio but very few of those recommendations have been adopted by state lawmakers.
Inmate Gary Otte, who robbed and shot two people to death in 1992, is scheduled to be executed Sept. 13.
The Fair Punishment Project said Otte as a child showed signs of social isolation, psychological problems, developmental delays and learning disabilities. He began abusing drugs and alcohol at age 10 and first attempted suicide at age 14.