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Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer wants to scrap the death penalty

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer wants to scrap the death penalty

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer, who helped write the state’s death penalty law, now wants Gov. John Kasich to end capital punishment in Ohio.

But a spokesman for the governor said Kasich will continue to support the death penalty.

Pfeifer, a Republican, was a state senator and chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee in 1981 when the death penalty became the law.

But safeguards lawmakers put in place to prevent inequities have not worked, said Pfeifer, citing racial and geographical disparities in how the penalty has been administered. Pfeifer called the use of capital punishment a “lottery.”

“It has bothered me from the beginning,” Pfeifer, who won a new term in November, told reporters on Wednesday. He made his initial comments about the death penalty on Tuesday during his swearing-in ceremony at the court.

“To my surprise, the next thing I know I’m at the Supreme Court having to deal with these cases where people are sentenced to death under a statute I was very involved in writing,” he said.

Pfeifer said an option for life in prison without parole was wrongly excluded from the earlier legislation. He said justices have never used the discretion the law gives them to look beyond legal arguments and use their own common sense to determine whether a person should be on death row.

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