On Thursday, Oct. 16, Ohioans to Stop Executions hosted the “Voices of Experiences: The Death Penalty” at the Franciscan Center of Lourdes University. The event was sponsored by Catholic Charities and was part of a series of Town Hall Forums to address the recommendations given by the Ohio Supreme Court Joint Task Force to increase the fairness and accuracy of the death penalty in Ohio.
In 2007, Ohio was assessed as falling short in 93% of the American Bar Association (ABA) standards for a fair and accurate state death penalty system, according to www.oste.org.
Early this year, The Ohio Supreme Court Joint Task Force made over 50 recommendations to address the findings of the Ohio Death Penalty. Those recommendations have yet to be implemented.
At the event, students and members of the community heard testimonies of people who has experienced death row from different viewpoints. Speakers included Charles Keith, whose brother was on Ohio’s death row before his sentence was commuted, Terry J. Collins, Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and oversaw more than 30 executions, and Derrick Jamison, who spent almost 20 years on death row before being exonerated in 2005.
Jamison is one of six people exonerated from Ohio’s Death Row. He was convicted in 1985 for the murder of Gary Mitchell, a bartender who fell victim to a bar robbery, which Jamison did not commit. After spending nearly two decades on death row, Jamison’s conviction was overturned due to evidence that was withheld from his original trial. He is now free man who lives in Cincinnati and voices his experience on death row.
“I don’t think one person should have the right to say you live or die,” says Jamison in an interview for the Dayton City Paper in 2011.
“The government says it’s wrong to kill and then they turn around and murder you. I watched them take young men out of their cells and murder them. I watched a lot of my friends die. I tell stories all around the world and people are astonished that this sort of thing is still going on. We are the only civilized country in the world that still kills its citizens.”
Click here to read more of his story.
Death Row Facts from otse.org:
- There have been 316 death sentences in the state of Ohio since 1981.
- An innocent person on death row will spend an average of 17.5 years in prison before being exonerated.
- Since 1999, there have been 53 men executed.