By Carlita Salazar
Derrick Jamison is a reminder as to why the death penalty in this country needs careful and yet urgent reexamination. An article published today on
profiles Jamison—a man who was sentenced to death in 1985 when he was wrongfully convicted of murder in Ohio. After six stays of execution, Jamison was granted a new trial in 2000. A federal judge determined that the prosecutor who worked on Jamison’s case had withheld evidence revealing that Jamison was innocent. In 2005, the charges were dismissed and Jamison became a free man.
Since 1976, 1,418 people from across the country have been executed according to the Death Penalty Information Center. In approximately the same amount of time—since 1977—155 people have been exonerated from death row, reports
(According to the Innocence Project, since 2000, 20 death row exonerations were based on post-conviction DNA testing).
Sadly, while these exonerees now have the advantage of their freedom, for some, their struggle for justice continues.
Jamison, for example, has yet to receive compensation for his wrongful conviction despite Ohio’s statute which can give exonerees $40,330 for each year of wrongful imprisonment, plus lost wages, attorney fees, fines and court costs. Innocence Project data shows that Jamison is not alone; of the 20 DNA exonerees who served time on death row, six (30%) have not been awarded compensation.
In light of all he’s been through, Jamison has become an anti-death row activist. He has spoken in every single death-penalty state in the country in an effort to rid the United States of the death penalty.
“Just to be clear, you know, I’m not just an exoneree, I’m an abolitionist. I got friends who are still inside,” says Jamison. “The death penalty not only kills inmates . . . it kills families.”
To learn more about Jamison, read the