The students examined the cases of 173 of the 204 inmates under sentence of death and determined 88 should not be executed under criteria used by former Illinois Gov. George Ryan when he granted clemency to all inmates on his state's death row.
"We just want to make sure that all of the factors come together ... that no innocent person is put to death in Ohio," said a UC law student.
Ryan, who used criteria developed by a blue-ribbon commission that recommended 85 changes in Illinois' capital punishment laws, won international praise for pardoning four prisoners and commuting the sentences of 157 others to life in prison. The blanket clemency days before Ryan left office was unanimously condemned by the state's 102 county prosecutors and family members and survivors of murder victims.
Three years ago, Ryan ordered a moratorium on executions after 13 death row inmates were exonerated by DNA and other evidence. Illinois executed 12 inmates during the 1990s.
"What happened in Illinois is a miscarriage of justice," said Hamilton County, Ohio, Prosecutor Mike Allen. "Thank God we have a governor like Bob Taft who would never engage in that kind of conduct."
Dan Dodd, a third-year law student who worked on the project at the university's Urban Justice Institute, urged Taft to temporarily halt all executions in Ohio and appoint a commission to study the death penalty.
"We're calling on the governor to make sure not one innocent person dies in Ohio," Dodd told Friday's Cincinnati Enquirer.
The law students are raising private donations for the Cincinnati Innocence Project, to study cases of inmates convicted on the basis of forensic evidence.
Since 1999, Ohio has performed five executions.
Richard Fox, who was convicted of the kidnap-murder of a college student in 1992, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Feb. 12.