Ohioans speak out against the death penalty after Ohio Supreme Court subjects Romell Broom to a second execution attempt

On March 16th, the Ohio Supreme court ruled 4 to 3 that Romell Broom, a death row inmate, could be subjected to the execution chamber for the second time. Broom was convicted and sentenced to death by the State of Ohio in 1984 for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old child. While the crime itself is heinous and must be brought to justice, there is an on going debate about capital punishment as a morally acceptable solution.

Six years ago, Ohio attempted to carry out Broom’s execution; but, despite inserting catheter needles 18 times over that course of two hours, Broom’s execution was unsuccessful.  As the country grapples with the ethical ramifications of the death penalty, Ohio is one of several states that have received national attention for botched executions in recent years.

A lethal injection room in Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, OH Source: Cleveland.com

A lethal injection room in Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, OH
Source: Cleveland.com

Building the case for human decency, Broom’s team argues that a second execution attempt would amount to both double jeopardy as well as cruel and unusual punishment. While the Ohio Supreme Court disagreed, these arguments aren’t the only reasons to ban the death penalty.

This Ohio Supreme Court decision comes just days after Hillary Clinton took a question about the death penalty from an exonerated death row inmate named Ricky Jackson at the CNN Democratic Town Hall at Ohio State University on March 13. Jackson spent decades in prison for a crime he did not commit. With the help of the Ohio Innocence Project, Jackson was released from prison. He asked Secretary Clinton how she could still take her stance on the death penalty, given the  prevalence of cases like Jackson’s. While Hillary still believes in limited use of the death penalty for federal offenses, namely in cases of terrorism or mass killings, she was distraught by Jackson’s story and acknowledged the failure of states. Yet, Jackson did not agree with Hillary; in his opinion piece for CNN, Jackson writes, “A society should not be judged on how it treats its best, but rather on how it treats its lowest. And even the lowest are capable of incredible acts of humanity and are worthy of decency. They are worthy of God’s grace, just as they bestowed grace upon me.”

Ricky Jackson asking Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton about the Death Penalty at the CNN Town Hall

Ricky Jackson asking Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton about the death penalty at the CNN Town Hall

America is one of only five countries– including Iran, North Korea, Yemen, and China– to use capital punishment. It costs tens of thousands of dollars more to incarcerate a death row inmate compared to a general population inmate. Multiple reports from different states show the cost of capital punishment cases can easily exceed a million dollars compared to other conviction sentences. Not to mention that public opinion of capital punishment has plummeted to a 40 year low in the last decade.

Does Broom stand to get a stay on the death penalty? Some states are realizing the detrimental consequences of the death penalty. For example, in May of last year, Nebraska’s state legislature abolished the death penalty by overriding a veto from the governor. While Ohio is far from abolishing the death penalty, Broom did get a short stay of his execution back in 2009 from then Governor Ted Strickland and many are hoping John Kasich will do the same. Some Ohioans have taken to social media to ask Governor Kasich to grant  clemency for Romell Broom. Others have expressed outrage at the prospect of a second attempt at carrying out Broom’s execution.

Considering that 2015 marked historic 25 year low-point for executions, perhaps this is a tipping point for the country. Many are making it known that they view the death penalty as an archaic and out-of-date punishment for Ohioans and Americans, alike. Perhaps now politicians and bureaucrats will finally start to hear a public consensus on this issue and take action as the outside pressure mounts from their constituents.