Ohio State Representative Ted Celeste, a Democrat, is scheduled to unveil proposed legislation banning Ohio's death penalty , according to the Associated Press. Celeste's brother, former Governor Richard Celeste, a death penalty opponent, commuted the death sentences of four men and four women before leaving office in 1990.
Celeste's bill calls for a review of the death penalty by a Supreme Court justice, two former prisons directors, and a former attorney general. Although Celeste may be sincere in his efforts to abolish the death penalty his bill is a legislative exercise in futility.
The likelihood of the Celeste's bill passing the Republican-led Ohio House is not good. Ohio is literally setting the standard nationwide for the death penalty. Last year, Ohio executed eight offenders second only to Texas, the perennial leader in executions. Ohio has executed two offenders in 2011 and has ten executions scheduled for the year. Ten executions would be a modern record for Ohio.
Ohio was the first state to move from a three drug protocol for lethal injection to a single drug protocol and this week Ohio became the first state to executed an offenders with a single lethal dose of pentobarbital. Also, Governor John Kasich is an ardent support of capital punishment.
However, Celeste is not without allies. Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer, one of the authors of Ohio's death penalty statute as a state senator, has recently come out in opposition to the death penalty. I wrote a column for the Youngstown Vindicator regarding Justice Pfeifer's decision, http://mattmangino.blogspot.com/2011/02/ohio-death-penalty-is-under-attack.html.