By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
COLUMBUS, Ohio: Four people were sentenced to death in Ohio last year, according to an annual report on capital punishment in the state that says a total of 320 death sentences have been handed down under Ohio’s 1981 law.
That’s one more than in 2012, but far below past years, when as many as 17 were sentenced to death in a single year— in both 1995 and 1996.
The report released Tuesday by Attorney General Mike DeWine also says 52 inmates have been executed since the state resumed putting inmates to death in 1999 after a 36-year gap.
In addition, 18 have had their sentences reduced to prison time, and 26 have died before execution, the report said.
Eight death row inmates were declared ineligible for execution because of mental disabilities, while 74 death sentences were removed for some type of other judicial action, the report said.
The report says Ohio has 145 active death penalty cases, including James Conway of Columbus, who received two death sentences for different slayings.
The report reflects the increasing rarity of death sentences in the state as prosecutors file fewer cases and juries choose the option of life without parole.
No one has been sentenced to death this year.
The report also comes at a time when Ohio and other states are scrambling to keep supplies of execution drugs on hand. Most drug makers are putting their drugs off limits for lethal injection, forcing states to turn to non-federally regulated versions of drugs.
Ohio uses a two-drug combination of a sedative followed by a painkiller and appears to have enough on hand for several executions, according to state records.
Ohio’s next execution is May 28, when Arthur Tyler is scheduled to die for killing a produce vendor in Cleveland during a 1983 robbery.
In its own report, Ohioans to Stop Executions noted that data continue to show more people face death sentences for killing a white person than killing a black person. The group also noted that death sentences continue to be subject to geography, with sentences more prevalent in some parts of Ohio than others.