State Rep. John Becker (R-OH) wants his state to execute more people — even if the Constitution has other things to say. Under a proposal Becker announced Friday, his state would expand its death penalty to include sex crimes such as rape, sexual battery and “improper sexual contact” with a minor, at least in cases where the defendant is a recidivist.
The Supreme Court held such use of the death penalty to be unconstitutional in Kennedy v. Louisiana, which established that “[a]s it relates to crimes against individuals . . . the death penalty should not be expanded to instances where the victim’s life was not taken.” Although Kennedy may permit execution for “treason, espionage, terrorism, and drug kingpin activity, which are offenses against the State,” the offenders Becker wishes to target cannot be subject to execution.
Ohio is already somewhat of an outlier in terms of the death penalty. Currently, the national trend is away from the death penalty — six states have eliminated death sentences in the last six years — and actual executions are increasingly rare in states outside of the south. In this regard, Ohio is very unusual. Next to Missouri, no other non-southern state executes more people than Ohio: