Thursday, March 29, 2001

Death row is crowded; Ohio opens more space

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Ohio's death row is expanding to make room for increasing numbers of condemned prisoners.

        “We have 10 inmates double-celled on death row,” said Warden Margaret Bagley of the Mansfield Correctional Institution in north-central Ohio. “We don't like to do that. We've been averaging three to five new inmates on death row every year.”

        Ms. Bagley said that 189 prisoners are on death row at Mansfield. Two other prisoners are being treated at the Corrections Medical Center in Columbus, and 11 are housed at the Ohio State Penitentiary at Youngstown. Those prisoners were moved there for disciplinary reasons after a 1995 death row disturbance.

        Ohio's criminal justice system has sent inmates to death row since 1981. So far just one, Wilford Berry, a Cleveland killer, has been executed. His death by lethal injection on Feb. 19, 1999, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville is the only execution in Ohio since 1963.

        Ohio ranks sixth in the number of prisoners awaiting execution in the United States. Nationally, 3,276 killers were on death row at the end of last year, a 58 percent increase over 1990.

        A spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery, whose office prosecutes death-penalty cases, said death row will continue growing in the state.

        Two men — Jay D. Scott of Cleveland and John W. Byrd Jr. of Cincinnati — are scheduled to die this year, on April 17 and Sept. 12, respectively.

        Ms. Bagley said 39 new death row beds will be available at the Mansfield prison by midsummer; space for another 39 prisoners will be available in the future.


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