Death penalty opponents, including Jeffrey Wogenstahl, on Ohio’s death row, can take heart from some recent important developments regarding the death penalty:
- President Obama has said the way the death penalty is implemented is “deeply troubling”.
- The pope has condemned the death penalty during a speech in Congress; four US Supreme Court justices, including the critical ‘swing voter’, Justice Kennedy, were in Congress to hear his speech.
- US Supreme Court Justice Scalia, despite his own strong personal support for the death penalty, has said “It wouldn’t surprise me at all” if the High Court struck down capital punishment as “unconstitutional.”
- The National Association of Evangelicals has voted to “soften its longstanding position supporting capital punishment”. It now accepts the strand of belief that endorses “the sacredness of all life, including the lives of those who perpetrate serious crimes and yet have the potential for repentance and reformation.”
- Scandals regarding the administration of the death penalty (botched executions, constitutionality issues, cases of likely innocence, such as Richard Glossip’s, government secrecy /shady deals / incompetency involving lethal injection drugs have resulted in many media articles advocating the end of the death penalty.
In Ohio execution dates have been postponed because lethal injection drugs cannot be procured, despite government attempts to shroud execution personnel and procedures in secrecy. Last week leading Ohio newspapers called for the execution moratorium to be used productively. Even the Columbus Dispatch, previously pro death penalty, was questioning whether the death penalty is “Worth the trouble”. It called for transparency by government in its approach to executions, and added “stifled transparency” to its list of “reasons to consider abandoning the death penalty”. And cleveland.com demanded a full examination of Ohio’s death penalty law:
“Rather than waste time trying to find new sources of lethal-injection drugs — or contemplating alternate forms of execution, such as electrocution, hanging, the gas chamber or even the firing squad, all of which some states have embraced as optional measures — Ohio needs to search its collective soul for the right thing to do.”
We can only agree.