The Ohio Parole Board has recommended clemency for Richard Nields, scheduled to die on June 10, 2010. This is an unusual step. The Board under Governor Strickland has recommended clemency (life in prison without parole) only twice before. Once the Governor listened, but the last time he ignored their recommendation, and Jason Getsy was executed on Tuesday, August 18, 2009.This recommendation provides a little bit of hope.
You can read the Board’s entire report here. (Another good summary is here.) The Board has afforded Governor Strickland political cover, if he’s tempted at all to provide clemency. Unfortunately, he might want to appear tough on crime in an election year, but perhaps you can influence him by calling, emailing, faxing and writing.You might mention a general opposition to the death penalty. You might suggest that the Governor follow the advice of the Clemency Board.
Nields was sentenced to death largely because he committed robbery after killing his girlfriend Patricia Newsome in 1997 in a drunken rage. The robbery, however, was incidental and should not, the Board majority felt, be the critical factor in sentencing.
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul E. Pfeifer wrote a strong dissenting opinion when the case was decided in 2002. He wrote, “The type of crime Nields did is not the type of crime the General Assembly did contemplate or should have contemplated as a death penalty offense…It is about alcoholism, rage and rejection and about Nields’ inability to cope with any of them. It is a crime of passion imbued with pathos and reeking of alcohol.”
Governor Ted Strickland, 77 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215