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Friday, 15 June, 2001, 09:43 GMT 10:43 UK
Ohio executes 'mentally-ill' killer
Bill Cunningham puts up lists showing how many people have been executed in Ohio
Scott (pictured right) was diagnosed on Death Row
The US state of Ohio has ignored local and international protests by executing a 48-year-old murderer who was suffering from schizophrenia according to his lawyers.

Jay D Scott died on Thursday evening shortly after being given a lethal injection in a prison in the town of Lucasville.

Execution factfile
1999: 98 executions
1951: 105 executions
95 people released from death row since 1973
66% of Americans support the death penalty
Twice in the last two months Scott had been given last-minute reprieves. On one occasions the needles to carry lethal chemicals into his body had already been inserted into his skin.

He had spent 17 years on Death Row after being found guilty of the murder of a Cleveland food shop owner in 1983.

Cruel and unusual

Scott was only the second person to be executed in Ohio since it reinstated the death penalty in 1981.

Death penalty supporters
Death penalty supporters gathered outside the prison
His lawyers argued that execution constituted cruel and unusual punishment, as he had become severely mentally ill while on Death Row.

He showed symptoms of schizophrenia, and set his cell on fire and tried to harm himself.

But Ohio's Attorney General, Betty Montgomery, said the only problem with the judicial process had been the time it had taken.

"At least 56 judges and countless appeals have not found any reason to reverse this judgement... the judicial process has worked, however, slowly," Ms Montgomery said.

The European Union urged Ohio's governor, Bob Taft, not to sign the execution order, saying in a letter sent on behalf of human rights group Amnesty International that the EU "opposes the death penalty in all cases and promotes universal abolition".

Execution rate rising

There has been growing concern in the US about the rise in the number of executions, even though some two thirds of the country still supports the death penalty.

More people - 97 in total - were put to death in the US in 1999 than in any year since 1951. The number this year could be higher still as 46 people were executed during the first four months of 2001 alone.

A recent study of the death penalty in the US found that two-thirds of all capital convictions are overturned on appeal.

Of the cases where courts ordered a new trial, 7% were acquitted, while 75% were convicted but sentenced to lesser punishment.

Several states are also currently reviewing their policies regarding the execution of criminals with low IQs, particularly if this is related to their crimes.

Fourteen states prohibit the execution of mentally retarded prisoners and eight others are considering a ban.

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See also:

26 Mar 01 | Americas
Top US court tackles death penalty
07 Mar 01 | Americas
US courts block death penalty cases
18 Dec 00 | Americas
Death penalty petition targets US
12 Jun 00 | Americas
Most US death sentences 'flawed'
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