An Ohio Supreme Court and Ohio State Bar Association task force studying the death penalty will this spring recommend the biggest overhaul of Ohio’s capital punishment statutes since they were adopted in 1981. One guarantee, from the task force chair: "It'll be more expensive." That continues a debate about the death penalty, both its humaneness and its significant cost to taxpayers. Explore opinions, stats and cost of the death penalty on this page by clicking between the four sections below.
Our reporters contacted numerous officials, former inmates, experts and victim family members to ask their opinions about the death penalty in Ohio. Click on a name in the menu to view video or quotes, or click on the frame to see the next video or quote.
State Representative, R-Greenville
Byrne is a former supporter of the death penalty who now opposes it. His wife, Sherry, was abducted, raped and murdered in 1985. Her killer, David Brewer of Greene County, was executed in 2003. In a telephone interview, Joe said he now views the death penalty and the appeals process as a waste of taxpayer's money.
Oversaw 33 executions as a warden and state prisons director
"If new evidence comes out, we can reverse life without parole. We certainly cannot reverse the death penalty after an execution."
Spent 22 years on Ohio's death row before his conviction was overturned
"Always said I never did it, from day one, but nobody listens to you. If you don't have power money or influence and you get wrapped up in the criminal justice system, you're in trouble."
"The things that I've lost I can never get back. I lost everything from an education to having a decent job to having a family and children."
Hamilton County Prosecutor
"Victims' families deserve justice and sometimes the cases are so bad the only thing that gets them justice and the community justice is the death penalty."
(On cost): "(Death penalty cases) cost more because it is dragged out as long as possible. Every continuance is requested, every motion there is more requests for delay, and the people that are causing the delay use the cost of death penalty litigation as a reason to get rid of it."
Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center
"The one conclusion they (cost studies) all have is that the death penalty is more expensive than life in imprisonment, which is not what you would think instinctively ... All of the studies have found there's a net cost to the taxpayers of having the death penalty because of having all of the legal expenses."
Montgomery County Prosecutor
"We always review the facts and circumstances relating to the crime, the past criminal conduct of the defendant, and the defendant's mental capacity. We also give the defense attorney representing the defendant the opportunity to provide us with evidence of mitigating factors, if any, before presenting death penalty cases to the Grand Jury."
(On cost): "Death penalty cases are very expensive, primarily due to the expense of appointed defense counsel and appointed defense experts."
One of three men who were released from Death Row after the courts tossed out their convictions
"I ain't been to jail. People on Death Row -- we've been to hell and back."
"It is wrong and it's costing all this money. Life without parole is a lot cheaper and if you make a mistake you can go get them out of jail. If you have the death penalty, you can’t say 'Oops, we made a mistake.' And then go get them out of the grave."
"I think the death penalty is not just a miscarriage of justice. It's a human rights violation."
Attorney who has argued 23 death penalty cases
"The death penalty is cold blooded killing. It is cold blooded, and we are better than that."
"I would say (the cost of prosecuting) is at least the same (as the cost of defense) if not more. There's a heightened awareness of death penalty cases. They (police and prosecutors) look at it under a magnifying glass. The investigations are usually more thorough, more complete, just because it's a death penalty case."
Ohio Supreme Court justice who wrote Ohio's death penalty law when he was in the legislature 33 years ago and now is against it
Awaiting execution of the man who killed his sister and nephew
"I think he should be executed. If you keep him in prison and don't put him to death, I'm fine with that. (But) there's a chance he may get out of prison and he may hurt somebody else. Tax dollars are wasted in every area of the United States, these tax dollars aren't wasted because they're keeping somebody off the street, keeping them from harming someone else."
Federal public defender for Ohio
"I've never seen a study that says life imprisonment costs more than the death penalty ... If we could take that out of the equation, that could free up resources in some other areas ... There are people in prison today who are serving punishments that are excessively long and could be reduced but they can't get representation so that reduction won't occur and we won't get the savings."
Montgomery County public defender
"(Compared to a life sentence, death penalty cases represent) an exponential increase in expenditures, it's an exponential increase in hours, it's an exponential increase in every motion, every filing you make in court, every hearing above and beyond trials, expert witnesses. It's dramatic the difference between the two because life and death are at stake."
Executive Director, Ohioans to Stop Executions
Former Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
Ohio Public Defender
"The death penalty is a failed system of justice. We have been unable to even handle it fairly. We have geographical disparities. We have racial disparities. There are those who say it's like a lightning strike whether you get a death penalty sentence ... After 30 years of (capital punishment) in Ohio, we have not been able to address any of those issues."
Ohio has 165 active dealth penalty cases. Here are some of the annual costs associated with executions.
Ohio has executed 53 inmates since reinstituting the death penalty in 1999. The table below displays the inmates who have been executed and details about them and their crimes.
|Inmate||County||DOB||Crime year||Execution date||Age when executed||Years on death row|
|McGuire, Dennis||Preble||February 10, 1960||1989||January 16, 2014||52||24|
|Mitts, Harry||Cuyahoga||June 18, 1952||1994||September 25, 2013||61||19|
|Smith, Steven||Richland||February 9, 1967||1998||May 1, 2013||46||15|
|Treesh, Frederick||Lake||April 12, 1964||1984||March 6, 2013||48||29|
|Hartman, Brett||Summit||June 29, 1974||1997||November 13, 2012||38||15|
|Palmer, Donald||Belmont||February 11, 1965||1989||September 20, 2012||47||23|
|Wiles, Mark||Portage||March 11, 1963||1985||April 18, 2012||49||27|
|Brooks, Reginald||Cuyahoga||March 20, 1945||1982||November 15, 2011||66||29|
|Bedford, Daniel Lee||Hamilton||September 16, 1947||1984||May 17, 2011||63||27|
|Carter, Clarence||Hamilton||March 9, 1962||1989||April 12, 2011||49||22|
|Baston, Johnnie||Lucas||February 18, 1974||1994||March 10, 2011||37||17|
|Spisak, Frank||Cuyahoga||June 6, 1951||1982||February 17, 2011||59||29|
|Benge, Michael||Butler||August 7, 1961||1993||October 6, 2010||49||17|
|Davie, Roderick||Trumbull||October 6, 1971||1991||August 10, 2010||38||19|
|Garner, William||Hamilton||September 26, 1972||1992||July 13, 2010||37||18|
|Beuke, Michael||Hamilton||February 14, 1962||1983||May 13, 2010||48||27|
|Durr, Darryl||Cuyahoga||June 26, 1963||1988||April 20, 2010||46||22|
|Reynolds, Lawrence||Summit||June 2, 1966||1994||March 16, 2010||43||16|
|Brown, Mark||Mahoning||November 13, 1972||1994||February 4, 2010||37||16|
|Smith, Vernon||Lucas||April 7, 1972||1993||January 7, 2010||37||17|
|Biros, Kenneth||Trumbull||June 24, 1968||1991||December 8, 2009||41||18|
|Getsy, Jason||Trumbull||October 8, 1975||1995||August 18, 2009||33||14|
|Keene, Marvallous||Montgomery||July 5, 1973||1991||July 21, 2009||36||18|
|Fautenberry, John||Hamilton||July 3, 1963||1991||July 14, 2009||46||18|
|Wilson, Daniel||Lorain||September 10, 1969||1991||June 3, 2009||39||18|
|Bryant-Bey, Gregory||Lucas||August 6, 1965||1992||November 19, 2008||43||16|
|Cooey, Richard||Summit||June 9, 1967||1986||October 14, 2008||41||22|
|Newton, Christopher||Richland||November 13, 1969||2001||May 24, 2007||37||6|
|Filiaggi, James||Lorain||May 15, 1965||1994||February 24, 2007||41||13|
|Lundgren, Jeffrey||Lake||May 3, 1950||1989||October 24, 2006||56||17|
|Ferguson, Darrell||Montgomery||January 30, 1978||2001||August 8, 2006||28||5|
|Barton, Rocky||Warren||July 28, 1956||2003||July 12, 2006||49||3|
|Clark, Joseph||Lucas||January 15, 1949||1984||May 2, 2006||57||22|
|Benner, Glenn||Summit||September 24, 1962||1986||February 7, 2006||43||20|
|Hicks, John||Hamilton||July 3, 1956||1985||November 29, 2005||49||20|
|Williams, William||Summit||November 9, 1956||1991||October 25, 2005||48||14|
|Ashworth, Herman||Licking||February 26, 1973||1996||September 27, 2005||32||9|
|Smith, William||Hamilton||October 28, 1957||1987||March 8, 2005||47||18|
|Dennis, Adremy||Summit||January 23, 1976||1994||October 13, 2004||28||10|
|Mink, Scott||Montgomery||October 13, 1962||2000||July 20, 2004||41||4|
|Vrable, Stephen||Mahoning||October 15, 1956||1989||July 14, 2004||47||15|
|Zuern, William||Hamilton||December 5, 1958||1984||June 8, 2004||45||20|
|Wickline, William||Franklin||March 15, 1952||1982||March 30, 2004||52||22|
|Roe, John Glenn||Franklin||April 4, 1962||1984||February 3, 2004||41||20|
|Martin, Ernest||Cuyahoga||September 22, 1960||1983||June 18, 2003||42||20|
|Brewer, David||Greene||April 22, 1959||1985||April 29, 2003||44||18|
|Fox, Richard||Wood||February 3, 1956||1989||February 12, 2003||47||14|
|Buell, Robert||Wayne/Summit||September 10, 1940||1982||September 25, 2002||62||20|
|Coleman, Alton||Hamilton||November 6, 1955||1984||April 26, 2002||46||18|
|Byrd, John||Hamilton||December 18, 1963||1983||February 19, 2002||38||19|
|Williams, Lewis||Cuyahoga||December 26, 1958||1983||January 14, 2002||43||19|
|Scott, Jay||Cuyahoga||August 21, 1952||1983||June 14, 2001||48||18|
|Berry, Wilford||Cuyahoga||September 2, 1962||1989||February 19, 1999||36||10|
After a U.S. Supreme Court ruling reinstated executions nationally, 1,277 inmates were put to death nationally from 1977-2011. Highlighted boxes indicate states that have recently studied the cost of executions. Click on those boxes for more information about what their studies found.