A Time of Elevated Torture

Robert Van Hook has been on Ohio’s death row longer than Jeffrey Wogenstahl. The state plans to kill Van Hook on Wednesday, July 18. He has extended family and friends who will mourn his death; they are the unintended victims of Van Hook’s death sentence.

The period leading up to and following Van Hook’s scheduled killing is also a time of elevated psychological torture for all Ohio death row inmates.

According to a certified psychiatrist and clinical psychologist, Van Hook meets the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder and substance abuse disorder, all of which stem from a chaotic and unstable upbringing that included sexual abuse. Together, post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder constitute a major disorder that equates with disease.

The seriousness of Van Hook’s disorders was not made clear at his trial. Indeed, his attorneys had only three and a half months from the time of his arrest until the trial; this was insufficient for the necessary investigation and development of mitigation evidence. Courts have been divided as to whether Van Hook’s death sentence should stand: one judge blamed the Hamilton County trial court as deficient for not exploring all mitigating factors.

Governor Kasich has rejected Van Hook’s appeal for clemency. OTSE (Ohioans to Stop Executions) asks that we request the Governor to stay the scheduled execution* until the reforms made by the Ohio Supreme Court Task Force on the Administration of Ohio’s Death Penalty are addressed. These reforms would exclude from the death penalty defendants who suffer from serious mental illness. 

We urge you to act on OTSE’s plea.

*The Governor can be phoned at 855-782-6925, or emailed via his website.

Update: Employees of the State of Ohio killed Robert Van Hook on July 18, 2018.

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