The State of Ohio is a weekly news program spotlighting the latest happenings at the Statehouse, in the Governor’s office, at the Ohio Supreme Court and throughout the Buckeye State, hosted by the award-winning Karen Kasler.
There's big disagreement over proposed death penalty changes.
It’s been nine years since the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation investment scandal that lost the state more than $200 million dollars and resulted in 19 convictions, including one for Republican Gov. Bob Taft. And this week the Inspector General released a report on his investigation of what became known as Coingate. But the report from IG Randall Meyer has no new findings. Rep. Peter Beck (R-Cincinnati), who's charged with fraud and theft for allegedly misleading investors and using their money for personal gain, will go on trial. A judge has denied former Rep. Clayton Luckie’s request for early release from prison, saying he agreed to serve three years for skimming nearly $130,000 in campaign funds for personal use and failing to list campaign expenditures for six years. It’s official – after months of speculation about whether a same-sex marriage amendment will be on this fall’s ballot, the group that’s pushing it says it won’t be. National experts say the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has broken new ground by declaring a “probable connection” between a series of earthquakes and hydraulic fracturing operations, then created new policy based on that discovery. And state officials say they’ll invest $88.5 million to upgrade and modernize trails, campgrounds, cabins, roads and other facilities and amenities in Ohio's state parks over the next two years.
Capital punishment in Ohio has been under fire for years. Since Ohio resumed executions in 1999, 54 killers have been put to death – sometimes in executions that have been described as botched. But there has also been a lot of concern raised about the application of the death penalty across the state. Two years ago, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and the president of the Ohio State Bar Association created a panel of nearly two dozen members to review the administration of the state’s death penalty and suggest changes if the members felt they were needed. A draft list of 56 recommendations was delivered last month. Chief Justice O'Connor talks about the draft list of recommendations.
Among those on the task force are four prosecutors – including Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, who this week presented to the court a minority report outlining the objections the prosecutors have to some of the recommendations. He decribes some of them.
There were opponents of the state’s death penalty on the task force as well - for instance, attorney Jon Paul Rion, the Dayton attorney representing the family of Dennis McGuire, who are suing the state over McGuire’s January execution. Rion is on the board of Ohioans to Stop Executions. Kevin Werner is that organization’s executive director, and he also talked about the recommendations.