Women and the Death Penalty in the United States, 1900-1998

By Kathleen A. O'Shea | Go to book overview

24
Ohio: Gas/Lethal Injection

The state of Ohio has sentenced thirteen women to death since 1900, three of these women, Ana Marie Hahn, Blanche Smarr Dean, and Betty Butler, were executed. There are no women on death row in Ohio today.

In 1885 the Ohio State legislature enacted a law that required all executions to be carried out at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus. Since then the state has used three methods of execution over a period of years.

Hanging was the first method of execution to be used and the first execution took place at the Ohio State Penitentiary on July 31, 1885. A 56-year-old man by the name of Valentine Wagner was hanged at 2:30 a.m. for the murder of Daniel Shehan. There were 27 more hangings in Ohio after Wagner.

The state next used electrocution. The first execution by electrocution was that of 17-year-old William Haas for the murder of Mrs. William Brady in 1897. In 1911, Charles Justice, the man who helped build Ohio's electric chair was also executed by electrocution. The last execution by electrocution at the Ohio State Penitentiary was that of Donald Reinbolt, a 29-year-old man from Franklin County who was executed on March 15, 1963. Over the years, a total of 312 men and 3 women were put to death in Ohio's electric chair.

One of the only two reporters allowed to witness the execution of Donald Reinbolt noted that when Warden Ernest Maxwell, briefed them before the execution, his primary concern was order. Therefore, one of the things he told them was that if anyone got sick or fainted during the execution, they would be ignored until after it was over.

The same reporter remembered the walls of the execution chamber as a "Rogue's Gallery" with pictures of the 314 people who had been electrocuted there on display ( Akron Beacon Journal, 1963). In those days there was no viewing room that separated the witnesses from the condemned so for Reinbolt's execution two reporters, a doctor, and the warden stood about six

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