New legislation seeks to fix death penalty system
Ohio Sens. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, and Sandra Williams, D-Cleveland, introduced Senate Bill 139 on April 6.
The bill is seeking to amend existing law to require the clerk of a common pleas court to retain a copy of the original trial file when a death penalty is imposed, to specify that there is no page limit on petitions for postconviction relief in death penalty cases or in appeals of denials of such relief, to provide for depositions and subpoenas during discovery in postconviction relife proceedings, and to require a judge hearing a postconviction relief proceeding to state specifically in the findings of fact and conclusions of law why each claim was either denied or granted.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Seitz and Williams are working on three more bills “which would prevent the execution of defendants with serious mental impairments, establish a fund for indigent defense [and] require certification of crime labs and coroners.”
Executions turn archaic as states seek replacements for problematic lethal injection drugs
Following the lack of lethal injection drugs, states are returning to old execution methods. Last May, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill that would revive the electric chair. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law the unprecedented use of nitrogen gas and in March, Utah revived the firing squad.
Recent exonerations raise questions of court system
The three most recently exonerated inmates, Riley Jackson, Wiley Bridgeman and Ronnie Bridgeman, were exonerated and released on November 1, 2014 after the key witness in their trial recanted his testimony, claiming that he was pressed by authorities to testify against the aforementioned.
Neither Jackson nor Wiley Bridgeman were angry at Vernon following their release.
“It’s amazing,” Bridgmen said as he stepped out of the prison, according to NPR. “The bitterness is over with. I carried that too long.”