In the 21st century, the Buckeye State’s suddenly-crowded execution docket has garnered it a reputation as “the Texas of the North”.
After conducting only a single execution in the first quarter-century after death penalty reinstatement, Ohio has been one of the country’s most aggressive executioners in recent years — noticeably bucking a national trend of falling executions elsewhere.
Ohio is so hard core that it’s still trying to re-execute a guy who stunningly survived execution in 2009. And while some states have found their death chambers shuttered recently by an interruption of the lethal chemical supplies, Ohio pioneered new one-drug protocols to keep its gurney occupied.
Executions per year
Annual number of executions for Ohio, compared to those for all other states not in the historic U.S. Confederacy or the “border states” of Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kentucky. Chart also excludes three executions conducted by the federal government. Incidentally, neighboring Indiana has 13 of the 42 other ‘Northern’ executions from 2001 to 2011. (Figures via the Death Penalty Information Center’s useful Executions Database.)
But then, Ohio has plenty of historical precedent to fall back on.
It was in the frontier Ohio Country (technically in present-day Pennsylvania, but who are we to split cartographers?) that the summary killing of a French prisoner taken by the young British officer George Washington touched off a world war. The Espy file log of known executions credits Ohio with approximately* 438 hangings, shootings, and electrocutions (and one lethal injection … and one execution by tomahawk) from the time of its 1803 statehood through the end of the 20th century.
For these next four days, we’ll peruse executions in the Texas of the North from the colonial era all the way down to (just about) the present day.
June 11, 1783: William Crawford
June 12, 1857: Return Ward
June 13, 1930: Lee Akers
June 14, 2001: Jay Scott
* My count; may be mistaken.