Religious leaders, crime victims, former prison officials, death row exonerees urge OH gov to call off executions

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A diverse group of death penalty opponents held a news conference at the state capitol in Ohio on Wednesday to ask Gov. John Kasich to call off the scheduled execution of Ronald Phillips next Wednesday.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that a group that included faith leaders, a retired appeals court judge who chaired the state’s task force on the death penalty, corrections officials, and death row exonerees delivered a petition to the governor’s office with approximately 30 thousand signatures protesting the upcoming execution.

The paper says retired Montgomery County Appeals Court Judge James Brogan, who chaired the Ohio Supreme Court Task Force on the Death Penalty, said in a statement that none of the task force’s 56 recommendations had been enacted, “and will enable the core problems we identified to continue and potentially lead to wrongful death penalty convictions.”

Former prison warden Rex Zent said he wants the executions called off because of the toll it takes on prison staff to execute a human being.

And Pastor Carl Ruby urged the governor to “listen to his faith,” and block the execution. He was one of 300 clergy members who signed an open letter to Kasich asking for a commutation.

Ohio death row exoneree Kwame Ajamu spoke of his case and that of eight others who have been exonerated in Ohio, and said the odds are that among the 27 men scheduled to be executed over the next four years, some are innocent.

It’s been three-and-a-half years since Ohio executed a prisoner. The last execution was in January 2014, when Dennis McGuire was put to death in a botched execution.

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