Timeline of capital punishment in Ohio

A brief look at the history of capital punishment in Ohio:

1803-1885: Executions are carried out as public hangings in the counties where the crimes were committed.

1885: Executions are moved to the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus.

1897: Electric chair replaces the gallows and a 17-year-old boy is the first prisoner to be electrocuted.

March 15, 1963: The electric chair is used for the last time when Donald Reinbolt, 29, is put to death. The electric chair was used to put 315 people to death.

1972: U.S. Supreme Court declares the death penalty is unconstitutional, reducing the death sentences for 65 inmates to life in prison. Death row is moved to Lucasville.

1974: Ohio lawmakers revise the state death penalty law but it is rejected four years later by the U.S. Supreme Court. As a result, 120 condemned prisoners’ sentences are commuted to life in prison.

Oct. 19, 1981: Current death penalty statute takes effect

January 1991: Days before leaving office, Gov. Richard Celeste commutes the death sentences for eight inmates to life in prison

1993: Gov. George Voinovich signs a bill into law giving condemned prisoners a choice between electrocution and lethal injection, with the default method being lethal injection.

Feb. 19, 1999: inmate Wilford Berry becomes the first inmate to be executed in Ohio since 1963. He voluntarily waived all of his appeals and opted for lethal injection.

Nov. 15, 2001: Gov. Bob Taft signs a law that eliminated the electric chair as a form of execution.

Feb. 26, 2002: Ohio’s electric chair – “Old Sparky” – is retired and later donated to the Ohio Historical Society.

June 26, 2003: Taft commutes the sentence of Jerome Campbell to life in prison without parole.

October 2005: Death row is moved from Mansfield to the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown.

Jan 9, 2008: Gov. Ted Strickland commutes John Spirko’s death sentence to life in prison without parole.

Feb. 12, 2009: Strickland commutes the sentence of inmate Jeffrey Hill to life with parole eligibility after 25 years. 

Nov. 30, 2009: Ohio becomes the first state to adopt a one-drug protocol for lethal injections.

June 4, 2010: Ted Strickland commutes Richard Nields’ sentence to life without parole.

Sept. 2, 2010: Strickland commutes Kevin Keith’s sentence to life without parole.

Nov. 15, 2010: Strickland commutes Sidney Cornwell’s sentence to life without parole.

May 2011: Gov. John Kasich commutes Shawn Hawkins’ sentence to life without parole.

Sept. 26, 2011: Kasich commutes Joseph Murphy’s sentence to life without parole. 

January 2012: Death row is moved to Chillicothe Correctional Institution.  

June 10, 2012:  Kasich commutes John Eley’s sentence to life without parole. 

Dec. 17, 2012: Kasich commutes Ron Post’s sentence to life without parole. 

To date, Ohio has executed a total of 391 convicted murderers. 

Source: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Timeline of Capital Punishment in Ohio:

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