Joy Stewart was a 22-year-old newlywed and was eight months pregnant with her first child in 1989 when she was brutally raped and stabbed, killing her and her unborn child. Because this killer acted in a way that was so heinous, he deserved to be punished with the most serious sentence our legal system allows. In the state of Ohio, this punishment is death.
On Jan. 16, Joy Stewart’s killer was put to death. At his execution, the killer was administered a new two-drug mixture that had not previously been used in an execution. Eyewitnesses to the execution claim that the murderer suffered excessively, and could be seen gasping for air. However, information has surfaced that indicates that the killer may have been requested to “put on a show” by his lawyers. While his lawyers deny this, the facts about what occurred at his execution are still in dispute.
Those against the death penalty in Ohio claim that this occurrence is further proof that the death penalty is cruel and unusual, and should therefore be banned. They believe that no person should be subjected to the pain that Joy Stewart’s murderer experienced during his execution, no matter how serious their crime. I respectfully disagree.
I have always been firmly in favor of the death penalty here in Ohio, and this occurrence does nothing to alter these views. However, in order to make the death penalty process more efficient, I believe there are areas within our legal system that need to be reformed.
After a trial, a convicted murderer has the right to appeal his or her conviction. However, this appeals process allows murderers to waste tax payer dollars through appeal after appeal. Yet only a handful of convictions have been completely overturned since 1973. On average, these convictions were overturned after just three hearings.
The average time an inmate spends on death row is more than 16 years. We need to reduce this amount of time by changing the appeals process in ways that will reduce the amount of time a murderer waits to be executed. This will reduce the costs associated with the appeals process, and cut down on the amount of tax dollars wasted on the most heinous of criminals.
Florida recently enacted legislation known as the Timely Justice Act, which shortens the amount of time between the conviction and the execution of a murderer. Ohio should consider the possibility of passing similar legislation that would cap the number of appeals hearings, or reduce the time between hearings, and reduce the amount of time a murderer is kept on death row.
Please stay in touch and provide your input on the issues of the day by taking my legislative survey at tinyurl.com/buchymarch2014