New Study Finds Vast Racial and Geographic Disparities in Ohio Executions

Homicides of White Females Six Times More Likely to Result in Execution Than Homicides of Black Males


New research released today by Political Science Professor Frank Baumgartner of the University of North Carolina reveals significant and troubling racial, gender, and geographic disparities with regards to who is executed in Ohio. The study, which looks at executions that were carried out between 1976 and 2014, details how the race and gender of the victim, as well as the county in which the crime occurred, improperly influence who is sentenced to death and executed in the state.

Professor Baumgartner noted, “The most concerning finding is that these racial and geographic disparities are quite significant, and they demonstrate that Ohio’s death penalty is plagued by vast inequities which will undermine public confidence in the state’s ability to carry out the death penalty in a fair and impartial manner.”

“This research raises troubling questions about the administration of the death penalty in Ohio,” said Sharon L. Davies, the Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University. “The race or gender of a victim, and the county of the crime, should not influence who is sentenced to die, but this new study shows that it does. Ohio citizens and lawmakers should review the findings of this important research.”

Major findings include:

  • Sixty-five percent of all executions carried out in Ohio between 1976 and 2014 were for crimes involving White victims despite the fact that 43% of all homicide victims are White.
  • Only 27% of all homicide victims are female, but 52% of all executions carried out in Ohio were for homicides involving female victims.
  • Homicides involving White female victims are six times more likely to result in an execution than homicides in involving Black male victims.
  • In cases where Black inmates were executed, 26% of all of the victims were White. In cases where White inmates were executed, just 8% of the victims were Black.
  • Four (Lucas, Summit, Cuyahoga, and Hamilton) out of Ohio’s 88 counties—or just 5%—are responsible for more than half of the state’s 53 executions.
  • Only three counties (Summit, Cuyahoga, and Hamilton) have produced more than five executions each. More than three-quarters of all Ohio counties (69) have never produced an execution.
  • The three most populous counties (Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Hamilton) have very different execution rates, even though their homicide rates are relatively similar. Hamilton has the highest execution rate at .60 executions per 100 homicides: this is more than double the execution rate in Cuyahoga, and nearly nine times the rate in Franklin County.
  • Lake County has an execution rate that is 11 times the state’s average execution rate of .36 executions per 100 homicides. Belmont County’s rate is more than eight times the state average.
  • The homicide rate in counties that have produced no executions (.47 homicides per 1,000 population) is dramatically lower than the homicide rate in counties that have produced executions (1.79 homicides per 1,000 population).


To schedule an interview with Professor Baumgartner or Sharon L. Davies, please call 510-393-4549 or email Professor Baumgartner’s full bio is available here.