Death Sentences May Be Dependent on Prosecutors
Ohio has seen a steady decline in the number of death sentences handed down in recent years. This is largely due to a decline in the number of requests for death sentences by prosecutors, according to the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. From 2012 to 2014, there was a decrease each year in the number.
In addition, Cuyahoga County used to be the leader in the number of sentences, but upon getting a new prosecutor in 2012, there was a huge drop with none in 2012. This was not something that could be a result of any change in the crime rates or types of crimes being committed because those numbers did not see a drastic change. It is believed the change was directly related to the change in prosecutors.
Franklin County, which is the largest in the state, also saw a decline in rates. In fact, Franklin has seen a decline every year since 1991. This has been attributed, again, to the prosecutor. This time, though, the change in death penalty requests has been due to his way of thinking, according to Columbus Monthly.
The prosecutor has been more focused on running his office in a similar manner to the federal government. The federal process involves weighing the evidence and looking at the details of the case before making a decision on whether to seek the death penalty. This often leads to more leniency, which is what has been seen in Franklin County.
Capital punishment is controversial. The lower number of cases where the death penalty is on the table or where it is actually used may also be attributed to the feelings of juries. It has been observed that juries would prefer not to deal with a death sentence and are less likely to choose this sentence over the alternative life without parole than in the past, which may lead to prosecutors not feeling as good about putting it on the table in the first place.