Ohio Attorney General Calls Death Penalty System Broken and Expensive


In a report released late last month, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost characterized his state’s capital punishment system as “broken” and “enormously expensive.” Mr. Yost called on Ohio’s elected officials to either overhaul the capital punishment system or end it, arguing that the current system “produces churn, waste, and endless lawsuits and nothing else.”

Over 120 people are currently on death row in Ohio, where executions have been paused since 2018 due to the state’s inability to procure lethal injection drugs.

According to a study from the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, capital punishment cases can cost $1 million to $3 million more than cases resulting in life sentences. The cost of imposing the death penalty on all of the people currently on Ohio’s death row, Mr. Yost extrapolated, would likely cost the state between $128 million to $384 million.

“That’s a stunning amount of money to spend on a program that doesn’t achieve its purpose,” Mr. Yost wrote. “This system satisfies nobody,” he added.

In March 2023, a group of Ohio lawmakers reintroduced legislation to abolish capital punishment in the state. Ohio is one of 27 death-penalty states in the country. Since 2004, eleven states including New Hampshire, Colorado, and Virginia have abolished the death penalty.

The decline in the use of the death penalty over the last two decades reflects a growing body of evidence that capital punishment does not deter crime or increase public safety and is extremely costly, unreliable, geographically arbitrary, and racially biased.