Leading Death Penalty Opponent Supports Ohio Capital Punishment Ban

There was an execution in Ohio today, and it brought more attention to the issue of whether the practice should be replaced in Ohio by life in prison without the possibility of parole. State Reps. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Ted Celeste (D-Grandview) are sponsoring that bill (House Bill 160, the Execute Justice Bill) and today got support from a leader death penalty opponent.

Sister Helen Prejean was at the Statehouse today supporting HB160. Her book, Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States, has been turned into a play, an opera, and a 1995 major motion picture starring Susan Sarandon. 

“People don’t think about it (capital punishment) much,” Sister Helen said. “As a Catholic nun, the Gospel is about more than just being charitable, it is about justice.”

“We need to educate people that life without parole is real, that people will be safe with that punishment. We can be safe without killing.”

“More than 90 per cent of people on death row had brutal childhoods, they were abused and one day they just exploded into violence. By executing them you’re not stopping violence, you’re repeating it,” said Sr. Helen.

Sister Helen Prejean traveled with a group of students from Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati to Lucasville for a vigil to mark the scheduled execution of Reginald Brooks, and met with lawmakers and officials from Governor Kasich’s administration in Columbus.

 The students attended the Statehouse news conference, and were interviewed themselves by a reporter from the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Meanwhile, the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee will hear proponent testimony on House Bill 160 on December 14th. The Ohio Supreme Court Joint Task Force to study the death penalty held its first meeting in early November and is scheduled to meet again in January.

Sr. Helen voices her support for HB 160

It’s not just an Ohio House Dems issue. Joining Reps. Antonio, Celeste and others from the caucus were Republican State Representatives Terry Boose and Terry Blair, both supporting the elimination of capital punishment.

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