Criminal Justice Update
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Criminal Justice Update

Death penalty report shows downward trend


In 2019, trials in Ohio resulted in death sentences for six people, the most since 2010 and a rare total for the decade, according to the 2019 Capital Crimes Annual Report.

The report, recently released by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, details the cases of every person in Ohio sentenced to death in a state court or federal court since 1981.

Among them was George Brinkman, who last year was sentenced to die in both Cuyahoga and Stark counties, after he killed an elderly Lake Township couple and a North Royalton woman and her daughters, ages 18 and 21, in 2017.

Since 1981, Ohio has issued 340 death sentences to 335 people. Fifty-six have been executed, 102 have had their sentences commuted or overturned, and 30 died before they could be executed. Still on Death Row awaiting execution are 143 people.

This graphic shows people sentenced to death by year in Ohio, with a clear trend of significantly highers numbers in the 1980s

The Capital Crimes Annual Report shows how the death penalty has been imposed less frequently as the years have passed. In the most recent decade, an average of 3.6 people a year were sentenced to death. That compares with 14.3 people on average in the 1980s. 1985 brought the most death sentences: 24. 

By comparison, a total of 36 people received death sentences from 2010 to 2019, including just one each in 2017 and 2015.