State executes 8 people in 2010
Ohio executed more inmates in 2010 than in any year since the state returned to capital punishment almost three decades ago.
The state’s eight executions ranked Ohio second in the nation — behind only the 17 carried out in Texas — and bucked a trend that has seen the number of executions in the United States fall by about 60 percent since the 1990s.
State officials say the resolution of court cases that had held up many executions in Ohio is the main reason the numbers increased this year. Those cases, which challenged lethal injection as cruel and unusual punishment, delayed several cases and led to a temporary execution moratorium.
With most of those cases resolved, Ohio’s executions occurred at a faster pace than usual in 2010.
“Those cases have finally run their course through the courts, so they can start scheduling those execution dates,” said Brian Niceswanger, a Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokesman.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said many convicts now approaching their execution dates have waited years because Ohio requires a long appeals process. He also said federal judges too often delay cases because they philosophically oppose the death penalty.
Ohio, which executed five people last year, was one of the few states to see an increase this year. The jump pushed the state ahead of Alabama for the second most executions in the nation.
Texas once again was the leader by a wide margin, but executions there fell from 24 to 17.
The Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit group critical of the death penalty, compiled the annual rankings and found that executions overall are falling. The number of executions nationwide fell from 52 to 46 from 2009 to this year.