Cincinnati and the Death Penalty - Opinion

by Maxwell Bruns, Managing Editor

Ohio is one of 32 states left in our nation which has yet to abolish the death penalty, and while the debate remains heated, many experts wonder why it exists as an institution. According to numerous studies on death penalty cases, the death penalty process is much costlier in court than “regular” murder trial proceedings. In fact, keeping prisoners in high security for life with no chance of parole has a total cost equaling much less the value than if that same prisoner were to go through a death penalty proceeding and get sentenced to death row. Even on death row, prisons must keep prisoners alive for extended periods of time before the date of execution, even years. Nevertheless, courts in Cincinnati continue to implement the practice, and one such case went through today.

On Monday, Warren County of Ohio sentenced a teenage man, 19, named Austin Myers to death for the gruesome murder of teenage US Navy Recruit Justin Back, 18. Myers, along with an accomplice named Timothy Mosley, planned the murder in tedious detail, according to a notebook submitted as evidence to the jury which outlined the plan the boys had hatched. The motive was to rob a safe belonging to the Back family which Austin theorized contained $20,000. After the murder was committed, Myers and Mosley reported finding loose paperwork inside the safe along with a couple of stray bullets.

According to WCPO Channel 9 News, it is the opinion of prosecutors such as Travis Vieux that “The only just sentence for Austin Myers is a sentence of death.” Prosecutors continued to hold that opinion throughout the process of the case, even when Myers and his mother made an appearance in court, wherein Myers said of his execution, “It won’t hurt me. I won’t feel anything. It’s going to hurt more innocent people.” Innocent people such as his mother, Danielle Copeland, who said in court that “When I'm looking at all these pictures, I describe it like my boy - I love him with all my heart - he just has a light in him in all of his pictures and then he doesn't. It's just like a different kid.”

The position of the prosecution, according to WCPO, with regards to the trial process is especially interesting: “Myers deserves to die.” This kind of general opinion held by implementers of the very justice system deserves to be analyzed, and a dialogue needs to be started. Most human beings would agree that the case of Mr. Myers which was just explained puts Myers and Mosley in the wrong, and big time. But what separates the boys’ execution scheme from a prosecutor’s opinion that they deserve to die for what they did? Death is a finality that, by technical terms, is handled by nature. What kind of regression in our society occurred wherein it is now acceptable to take an eye for an eye?

Besides the moral implications, cost benefit analysis should probably be considered as well. As it was previously mentioned, the death penalty puts a huge financial burden on state institutions such as the Ohio court system, and this is money the state could be channeling into other areas of crime prevention or education. Since 1976, Ohio has had 53 executions, even though every case had the chance to condemn the prisoner to a less expensive life without parole.

Whether or not the death penalty is something you support, Myers is now one of the 143 people populating Ohio’s death row, and this declaration, as with every institution of the death penalty, leaves much discussion as to whether the death penalty should still be implemented in our courts.


Article approved and revised by:  Justin Weller, Editor in Chief