In their view

Published:

It's time to review the death penalty.

Regular review and, if necessary, reform of death penalty standards are essential to be sure the ultimate punishment is applied fairly.

Minimize or eliminate the risk that the innocent are executed. Improve standards for the preservation and use of DNA evidence. Strengthen assurances that confessions are not coerced. Strengthening protections for the severely mentally ill accused of capital crimes would be humane. Ensure that the accused in these life-and-death cases get adequate defense by implementing uniform standards and better pay for public defenders.

These recommendations are included in a new report put together by an expert task force. The just-released recommendations are already reviving traditional divisions on the practice. But before prosecutors, lawyers and legislators resort to predictable stances, they should remember that public confidence in state-sanctioned execution is essential.

The death penalty has long been controversial, but opinions are shifting. A solid majority of Americans still favor the death penalty, but it is a shrinking number. Just a generation ago, 78 percent favored capital punishment and only 18 percent opposed it, according to the Pew Research Center. That has shrunk to 55 percent in favor and 37 percent opposed...

The death penalty is the law in Ohio, but opinions are evolving. If reforms are made, they should be done to improve the public's trust that the law is being applied fairly, justly and impartially.

The Cincinnati Enquirer

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