Today, State Representative John Becker (R-Union Township) introduced HB 244 to expand Ohio’s death penalty to be applied to certain sex crimes. In a press release from his office, Becker cited the Ariel Castro case in Cleveland as a reason for the need of this legislation:
“In light of the Ariel Castro kidnapping case of three young women in Cleveland, I wanted to give prosecutors the option to pursue the death penalty for repeat sexual offenders,” Rep. Becker said. “For various reasons, I anticipate that the death penalty would be pursued in only the most heinous crimes.”
The crimes in the legislation include aggravated rape, aggravated rape of a child, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated sexual battery of a child, and aggravated unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
“If House Bill 244 becomes law, prosecutors would be able to use the death penalty threat as a tool for plea bargain negotiations,” Rep. Becker said. “Nobody in this country has ever been executed for a sex crime, but that could change.” (emphasis added.)
So, let’s recap. This bill would expand Ohio’s death penalty to permit executions for crimes that are not eligible for the death penalty anywhere in the country (including Texas).
The cited inspiration for it is the Ariel Castro case. But as the Plain Dealer pointed out:
Castro, who pleaded guilty to hundreds of charges related to the kidnapping, rape and imprisonment of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, would not have been eligible for the death penalty under this statute, as he did not have a previous conviction for a sex crime.
So, even if Becker’s bill was already law, it wouldn’t have even applied to the Ariel Castro case because Ariel Castro had no prior sexual offenses. Of course, there’s another issue with Becker’s argument: Ariel Castro plead to avoid the death penalty under existing Ohio law. So Becker’s bill would expand Ohio’s death penalty to include crimes no other State in the country considers a capital crime because of a case that was already a potential capital case under existing law that his bill, if law, would not have affected.
And, you guessed it, Becker considers himself a Right-To-Lifer.
[UPDATE:] Here’s what happens when I try to write a quick post while watching a movie with Mrs. Esquire. I forgot to mention that one reason no other State makes such offenses a capital offense is because the United States Supreme Court has declared such laws unconstitutional in 2007.
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