Monday, January 31, 2011

Former Ohio Corrections Chief Calls for End of Death Penalty

Terry Collins, former director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, recently urged the state to replace capital punishment with life in prison without parole.

In an op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch, Collins said he personally observed the execution of 33 men from 2001 to 2010, and questioned whether it was the right thing to do all 33 times: “Had all the reviews and appeals got this case right? Did the process make certain, absolutely, there was no mistake or error? I wondered that because I had previously walked people out of prison who were found not guilty after years of incarceration. What if we got it wrong for those we executed?”

Collins also addresses the high costs of the death penalty, both fiscally and those borne by victims’ families. He said, “An increasing number of families ask the state not to pursue the death penalty so that they are not faced with the painful task of attending appeals hearings, and so they can achieve closure. Life imprisonment without parole offers justice that is swift, certain, effectively severe and perhaps more sensitive to the needs of healing victims' families.”

Collins also noted that death sentences have drastically reduced since life without the possibility of parole became an option in Ohio, adding “Many in our society have deemed this alternative to be a reasonable measure and a way to keep Ohio communities safe, something every member of the law-enforcement community values. We can have confidence knowing that when necessary, we can safely incarcerate offenders for life.”

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