Just got word that Soja has ended his hunger strike

From: Redbird Prison Abolition:
Nov. 4th 2013

UPDATE: Just got word that Soja has ended his hunger strike.

“I ended my hunger strike Nov 1, 2013, after a long discussion about my property and the harassment, I agreed to come off strike if my property was brought to me, which was given to me a short while later.

However, my issues with the harassment wasn’t taken too serious in my opinion. I was only told that he would keep his attention on the issue and be fair if something was to happen. At that point  his attention won’t stop something happening to me if that’s what is planned.”

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Loss of Hope

Reblogged from the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Aug. 6th, 2013

My name is Vicki Adams Werneke and I am a Federal Public Defender. My colleague Joseph (Joe) Wilhelm and I represented Billy Slagle. 

This Friday, August 9, will mark my 20th year of doing capital work. I was hoping the date would be celebrated with the saving of another life, and by all accounts it would have been. Sadly, as happens with our clients at times, he lost hope. Apparently Billy wanted to die on his own terms. Although I can’t fault him, I am dismayed and a little angry that he made that decision. Anyone who has been in this macabre business very long knows the emotional roller coaster that the clients and defense teams go through when trying to save a life. The roller coaster in Billy’s case had many high moments and many low moments.

Two years ago we conducted a clemency hearing with compelling reasons why Billy should not be executed. He was just 18 when the murder happened, and at that young age he was already a chronic alcoholic. In fact, he was highly intoxicated on drugs and alcohol at time of the crime. Billy came from a very dysfunctional family and with 90 proof roots. He did not enter the victim’s house with any intent to do her harm, just steal from her to get money for more alcohol and drugs, and was very remorseful from the beginning. At that time two years ago, the Governor did not make a final decision on clemency, but instead granted a reprieve because of the lethal injection litigation. The new execution date was set for August 7, 2013.

In the interim two years, Billy reconnected with his family. He had always been withdrawn and getting him to talk was difficult at times. He was always respectful, he just didn’t show emotion or want to be a bother to anyone. But in those two years, he was more communicative and talked about his dreams for what he would make of his life if given an opportunity to live the rest of his life in prison. He knew that he would never get out and would have accepted a life imprisonment without parole. He talked about learning his native language, so he could talk to his aunt. Our office got him a book and CD set so he could start learning. He wanted to work with animals and dreamed of being involved in the program that inmates are allowed to train service dogs. His family talked about he rescued injured animals when he was a child and how good he was with them. Billy talked about how he wanted to help his nieces and nephews and be the patriarch of the family.

In preparation for the clemency hearing in July, we approached the county prosecutor to see if they would at least not oppose our clemency request. The prosecutor had made many public statements that he was approaching capital cases differently, but we weren’t sure whether that meant newly indicted cases or older ones like Billy’s. To our great surprise, the prosecutor actually joined our request! His written response indicated that he agreed clemency was warranted in Billy’s case. The Parole Board still had a clemency hearing and the prosecutor said reiterated his support for a commutation of sentence and explained why the office was taking that position. The prosecutor also told the Board that the murder victim’s family supported the prosecutor’s position. It was incredible and we were so hopeful. So was Billy.

The parole board issued their report on July 16 and the vote was 6-4 against clemency, which meant we had 4 votes for clemency! Of those 4 board members who voted for clemency, 3 were on the board in 2011 and had voted to deny clemency. We were disappointed that 6 members voted against, but again were hopeful. So was Billy.

But then Governor Kasich denied clemency on July 24. No explanation given other than “nothing had changed in two years.” We were devastated and felt like we had been punched in the stomach. So was Billy.
Circumstances had changed in two years, but I guess it didn’t matter to Governor Kasich that the county prosecutor stated Billy was not the worse of the worst and did not deserve execution. I guess it didn’t matter that the victim’s family was in favor of clemency.

Since the prosecutor supported clemency, we reached out to him again to see if he would agree to a judicial proceeding that would result in Billy’s sentence being modified to life imprisonment. The assistant prosecutor said he would discuss it with Prosecutor McGinty and get back to us. We waited as long as we could, and on Tuesday, July 30, 2013, we filed a Request for Leave to File a Motion for New Trial asking the trial court to vacate the death sentence. We hoped the prosecutor would not oppose the motion and we could work out a deal where Billy would be resentenced to life imprisonment. We also filed a Motion for Stay of Execution with the Ohio Supreme Court and a Motion to Vacate the Sentence. The thought was to give every court and judicial officer the tools to do the right thing and stop the execution. The judge summarily denied the motion the Motion for a New Trial on Wednesday, July 31, 2013, without a response from the prosecutor. We learned of the denial when I checked the online court docket at 4:30pm that day, which showed the order was posted at 2:30 that afternoon. No call from the court and so far not even a copy of the order in the mail.

In the meantime, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered the prosecutor to respond to the stay motion and the motion to vacate by Friday, August 2, 2013, at noon. The prosecutor responded late in the afternoon on Thursday, August 1, 2013.The prosecutor said they were opposing our motion seven though they admitted that at the clemency hearing they were in favor of a sentence commutation.

On Thursday, August 1, 2013, we filed a notice of appeal of the summary denial of our request for leave to file a Motion for New Trial. The same day, the Court of Appeals sua sponte ordered the briefs to be filed by Monday, August 5, 2013, by 9:00 am and that oral argument would be at1:30 pm. We were pleased, although knew it would have been difficult for us to win. We still had hope.

Our investigator Jan and I went to the prison on Friday, August 2, 2013, to visit with Billy. I shared with him the responses from the prosecutor to our stay motion and the motion to vacate. I also gave him the brief that Joe was filing with the Court of Appeals that day. He was very sad and obviously disappointed, but there was no indication that he was thinking of taking his life. I had documents for him to sign so we could take further appeals and he signed them without hesitation. I tried to give him hope, but also to prepare him for the worse. I told him we had the oral argument on Monday and that we were still fighting for him. Billy has always been somewhat withdrawn so it wasn’t unusual for him to not be very talkative. He was grateful for our visit, but was ready to go back to his cell after about an hour. I told Billy God didn’t want him executed. After Governor Kasich denied clemency, Billy told his family he didn’t want them to visit in person anymore. However, he did call them every day.

While Jan and I were driving the long 4 hours back to Cleveland, Joe called me. At about 5:00that evening, Joe had received a call from Prosecutor McGinty and his two assistants. Apparently one of the assistant prosecutors from the 1988 trial told McGinty that there had been a plea deal offered to Billy’s trial attorney back then. If Billy plead guilty, they would agree that he would be sentenced to life imprisonment with parole after 30 years. The assistant prosecutor said Billy’s trial attorney rejected the offer. However, it appears that Billy had never been informed of the plea deal. Billy even told us that had he been given a deal back then, he would have taken it. He did not know that he could have plead guilty back then and been spared the death penalty. About an hour after Joe talked with McGinty, one of the assistants called asking if we were going to file another stay motion with the Ohio Supreme Court. Joe replied “Of course”, especially based on this new information. The prosecutor told Joe they would not oppose the motion, meaning the Ohio Supreme Court would most likely grant the motion and the execution would be stopped. We would have been able to work out a deal where Billy’s death sentence would be vacated and he would have been sentenced to life imprisonment.

This was great news! Joe and I worked on Saturday to prepare a strategy and the pleadings .However, we were not able to tell Billy because we didn’t have access to him after hours. We didn’t tell his family out of concern that if the information leaked, others would try to stop the support from prosecutor’s office. We sent an email to the case manager at the prison requesting a phone call first thing Monday morning.

But then Sunday morning, the world shattered. I was in church with my dad and my phone kept vibrating in the middle of the sermon. I could tell I was getting phone calls, but didn’t look at my phone. As soon as I could find a discreet time to take a glance at my phone, I saw a text message from Jan telling me that Billy’s sister called to tell us that he had hanged himself. He was gone.

No one from the prison called us, his attorneys. I learned that after they called Billy’s family, the prison media person called the press. By the time I got out of church, it was all over the news.

There are lessons to learn from this case for everyone. I hope those in position to make the final decisions about a man’s life or death take heed of these lessons. The roller coaster of emotions that I, as a lawyer, experience is heart wrenching—but that is only a fraction of how Billy felt. Even in a case where there is no question of guilt, there remain serious questions about whether the death sentence was the appropriate punishment and the cat and mouse games played by those in power. Hope is a powerful thing and loss of hope can be deadly.

Governor Kasich: Please Stop the Execution of Billy Slagle!

This comes from an email received on July 22nd. We urge the Ohio governor to stop the execution of Mr Billy Slagle:

Native American Billy Slagle, a pen pal of mine, is on death row for a crime he committed in 1987 when he was just 18 years old. A psychiatrist testified at trial that his emotional age was only 12. Billy’s tragic life leading up to the murder of Mari Ann Pope– a life marked by abuse, neglect, drug and alcohol abuse– explains why this young man of 18 years had not emotionally developed beyond age 12. He became already an alcoholic at the age of four. No one can blame alcoholism on a child of four years.
According to the 2011 Parole Boards’s report Joseph Wilhelm of the Federal Public Defender’s Office told the parole board that “Slagle was a broken person who had a broken brain from chemical addiction, a broken childhood from abuse and neglect and was emotionally retarded”.
A federal appellate judge said prosecutors were “most vile” during the murder trial. U.S. Circuit Judge Karen Nelson Moore described Slagle’s trial in CuyahogaCounty as infected with unfairness, and said his conviction should be overturned because prosecutors in Cleveland repeatedly made inflammatory comments during the trial.
Judge Moore, the only member of the panel with a Cleveland tie and former Case Western Reserve University law professor, was highly critical of remarks prosecutors made that portrayed Slagle, an American Indian, “as a nonbeliever or a believer of dubious faith.”
U.S. Circuit Judge John Rogers, who delivered the majority opinion, said 15 improper comments were made during the trial, but found none were strong enough to cause a miscarriage of justice.
Some of the comments included statements that Slagle “has no conscience” and that his life “has been one big lie” and that he was “one of the greatest threats against community and civilization.” The prosecutors also belittled defense witnesses, calling one expert on alcoholism a person who offered “only liberal quack theories.”
I was sorely shocked to get to know that Ohio Parole Board recommended in a unanimous vote in 2011, that the Governor of Ohio should deny Billy Slagle’s clemency request.
After a stay of all executions in Ohio from 2011 to 2013 – due to juridical problems with a new execution protocol – the Ohio Parole Board voted 6-4 to turn down a new request for clemency for Billy Slagle on July 16th, 2013, despite the mitigating circumstances, although even Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty asked the Ohio Parole Board to recommend clemency to the Governor of Ohio to commute Billy Slagle’s death sentence to life without parole. I endorse his request wholeheartedly taking into account the mitigating circumstances of Native American Billy Slagle who was a teenager and chronic alcoholic when he committed the crime.
Billy Slagle is not the teenager anymore who committed a crime in 1987. Billy Slagle is no alcoholic anymore. He is a grown-up kind man who has spent more than the half of his lifetime on death row. He has changed entirely, and feels deep remorse for the crime that he committed as a juvenile of 18 years. 

“I’m neither inherently evil nor a bad person, but rather someone that has made a terrible mistake and wishes that I could take that night all back,” Billy Slagle wrote in a statement to the board in 2011. I know my friend Billy deserves the mercy of the Governor of Ohio!
Please ask Governor Kasich to stop the execution of my friend Billy despite the denial of the request to recommend clemency to him by 6 members of the Board!
Remembering the words of the New Testament “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40) I am imploring Ohio to show clemency to Native American Billy Slagle! 

Please urge Governor Kasich to spare the life of Native American Billy Slagle!

Thank you. 

Solidarity with prisoners in California from a supermax-prisoner in Ohio

This was sent to us as a call for solidarity and support for the California prisoners who are going on a hunger strike as of July 8th, by Greg Curry in Ohio, who has been held in the supermax since his false indictment and conviction following the Lucasville prison disturbance of 1993. Greg and others have had to resort to hunger strikes many times to fight for basic rights. 

7-1-13 For Distribution:

Why should a prisoner in Ohio or Minnesota, or New Mexico, support California prisoners as they move into a crucial stage of struggle for their just do?

My humble opinion is: how could any prisoner think that these apartheid-style policies being used in California won’t come knocking in Florida, WV, Illinois, or any prison system, at any given time? Remember California is said to be a liberal (in terms of political policy) state. How many conservative governors are envious of such harsh prison policies right now?!

I urge all of you in every prison and your able-bodied supporters (each of you can ask one of your friends, supporters outside who are in good health) to support this July 8th hunger strike in some form, but don’t wait till this kind of policy pays you a visit… 

Remember Lucasville 
Justiceforlucasvilleprisoners.wordpress.com

Greg Curry (Ohio State Penitentiary)

Gregcurry.org

Greg Curry #213-159
OSP
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road,
Youngstown, OH 44505

Lucasville Media Access Hunger Strike Ends

May 6th, 2013
For Immediate Release to the Public

From: Siddique Abdullah Hasan and Gregory Curry:

Lucasville Media Access Hunger Strike Ends
[click on link to hear the voice version by Hasan]

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO– Today, at 3:15 p.m., Greg Curry and I, Siddique Abdullah Hasan, decided to end our almost month-long hunger strike. The strike commenced on April 11, the 20th anniversary of the Lucasville prison uprising. The sole purpose of our strike was to vigorously challenge the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) continuously denying us to have direct access to the media- that is: on-camera interviews with the media.

While both death-row and non-death row prisoners in Ohio are granted on-camera access to the media, those who have been reailroaded and convicted of crimes stemming from the Lucasville Uprising have continuously been denied equal protection under the law. 

And though ODRC policy permits its prisoners to meet with the media to discuss their criminal cases, this policy has not been applicable to those of of convicted of riot related offenses. In fact, in 2003, the then-prison chief, Reginald Wilkinson, made it perfectly clear to Kevin Mayhood a staff reporter at the Columbus Dispatch that: “no inmates convicted of riot crimes will be permitted to speak with [them].” This blanket and collective denial is contrary to ODRC’s own state-wide Media Policy, which Mr. Wilkinson’s successors have been unconstitutionally enforcing his vindictive directive. 

We want to thank all our supporters, as well as some reporters in the media, who have been agressively assisting us in challenging this unconstitutional media blockade.

We also want to thank the various organizations who have expressed interest in this matter– that is, the flagrant violation of our first amendment guarantees which protect freedom of speech and redress from government excesses.

Finally we want to thank Warden David Bobby for negotiating with us in good faith and for being the liaison between us and his hard-line superiors at Central Office.

Because of these factors, we decided to end our hunger strike and allow this crucial matter to be litigated through the court. God willing, we will be granted a resounding legal victory against the prisoncrats who wish to silence us in a deliberate ongoing attempt to prevent us from revealing the truth about our criminal convictions, convictions which are a serious affront and travesty of justice. Until then, I remain…

In the trenches,

Siddique Abdullah Hasan.
####

Greg Curry on Lucasville Uprising and 20th anniversary hunger strike demanding media access

From: SF Bay View, April 21, 2013

by Annabelle Parker

Greg recently on a visit behind glass

Greg Curry, 48, is a prisoner in the Ohio State Penitentiary, the supermax facility in that state, serving a life sentence following a major disturbance in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF), in Lucasville, Ohio. This disturbance, known as the Lucasville Uprising, started 20 years ago, on April 11, 1993, after the warden, Arthur Tate, had instituted a very strict regime with no allowance for any discussion or negotiation of the rules, nor any respect for those in prison.

One of the important issues for Muslim prisoners was that the mandatory TB tests used alcohol (phenol) under the skin, which they refused. There was no discussion allowed with the warden to use alternative means of testing. This attitude of not listening to the serious concerns of a group of religious prisoners culminated in the uprising. For more information, see http://www.lucasvilleamnesty.org/p/background.html and https://justiceforlucasvilleprisoners.wordpress.com/.

This disturbance, known as the Lucasville Uprising, started 20 years ago, on April 11, 1993, after the warden, Arthur Tate, had instituted a very strict regime with no allowance for any discussion or negotiation of the rules, nor any respect for those in prison.

I’ve been in contact with the people who were convicted after the disturbance ended, and one big reason the story of Lucasville has to be told again and again is that not only did this tragic, desperate uprising lead to 10 deaths, but five men are still on death row and many more have been given lengthy sentences who declare their innocence.

After the uprising, informants were used to testify against other prisoners. In some cases, one prisoner would admit to having committed a murder, yet someone else would be found guilty of the same murder. Attorney and writer Staughton Lynd details this in seven essays he has written over the past year reflecting on the 20th anniversary of the Lucasville Uprising.

Siddique Abdullah Hasan, designated the “ringleader” during his trial following the Lucasville Uprising and condemned to death, wrote: “One of the prosecutors, who is now a state judge, recently stated to a documentary filmmaker, ‘I don’t think that we will ever know who hands-on killed the Corrections Officer Vallandingham.’ This is not what he and other prosecutors told our juries. So yes, we are innocent men who are political prisoners.”

One big reason the story of Lucasville has to be told again and again is that not only did this tragic, desperate uprising lead to 10 deaths, but five men are still on death row and many more have been given lengthy sentences who declare their innocence.

Building a supermax appears to be the one thing politicians and prisoncrats wanted in the 1990s, and the Lucasville Uprising, which they call a riot, was all that was needed to get their way.

These innocent men have been treated more cruelly for the 20 years since the uprising than any other Ohio prisoners, and that injustice must be set right. More public and political outcry is badly needed. A general amnesty for all involved would be a graceful and just, albeit late, remedy for those who were wrongly convicted. Here is the story in short of Greg Curry, one of the prisoners who received a life sentence even though he had nothing to do with the uprising or the murders.

Greg Curry

Annabelle Parker: Greg, on the website Gregcurry.org and in a flyer you and your supporters have published, you wrote: “I was 29 years old. My interest was going home, sports, hustling and exercising, nothing more or less: no gangs, groups or religious affiliation, nothing to prove to my peers. Therefore, I had no serious disciplinary issues. My job was a recreation aide.”

So you were not with the Muslims or affiliated  with a prison gang?

Greg Curry: No, I was not part of any prison group or religion pre 1993. Most of the guys charged I had not even seen before.

A.P.: Greg, why did the prosecution or those investigating the riot turn to you? Do you have any clue? Did anyone mention your name?

G.C.: Most people knew me and Keith LaMar [now known as Bomani Shakur] was close friends, brothers even, so the assumption would be natural that we’re together or have each other’s back.

Some guys in LaMar’s block where these murders took place (apparently) blamed him and his friends, all in face mask by the way. So that started a process of founding “LaMar’s friends,” and once I was interviewed by the investigators, I was told “you or LaMar going to death row.”

I told them I didn’t know anything and have no reason to blame LaMar for anything either. Some guys – Lou Jones, Ant Walker, Donald Cassell – had previous problems with LaMar and evidence suggested that they would be charged for murders, so they needed to “perform” to get paroles and no charges on themselves.
Once LaMar’s “friends’” names were discovered, the investigators started giving these to their inmate conspirators (“snitches”) and those inmates repeated the lies. When you put most anyone up against anyone else, most people will save self; lying is only a minor detail.

I was given an opportunity to “save myself,” but I didn’t do anything or know anything worthy of needing saving from. How ironic that not knowing, not being involved, would put me at greater risk than had I committed a crime.

A.P.: This snitching by other inmates, this was encouraged by the prosecutors? Did the prisoners get anything out of snitching, which I gather means lying in court? Were they themselves involved maybe?

G.C.: Yes, the investigators that were state police and the prosecutors encouraged, created a narrative for the inmate conspirators (“snitches”) that wrapped up all loose ends and allowed different juries in different courts to convict different people for the exact same crime, so that four to five people individually are convicted for each murder.

Those snitches were then given parole or no charges. In Lou Jones’ case, he admitted being on this so-called “death squad,” yet he was not charged with anything and got a parole.

To clarify the commonly used term “snitching,” I prefer the inmate conspirators’ term. Yes, they helped get us divided, which in America is an easy task, and then the heavy burden of being poor, Black, male, convicted felon in a totally opposite rural community on trial makes you truly vulnerable to conviction.
Then, yes, these guys came to court to testify as well. As I said earlier, yes, these guys were the first to be accused, which is why the investigators paid them a visit. Once shown the evidence against them, they were given a “way out.”

I was given an opportunity to “save myself,” but I didn’t do anything or know anything worthy of needing saving from. How ironic that not knowing, not being involved, would put me at greater risk than had I committed a crime.


A.P.: You say on the website that deals are part of the law in Ohio but that the jurors have to know about the deals. In your case, the jurors clearly did not know, but the prosecution and the lying inmates did know about the fabrication of the case against you. In other words, they knew about a deal, but it was not disclosed in court? And the judge? Did he or she know?
What about Beckett v Haviland US App 6th cir?

G.C.: I believe the judge at trial, Stapleton, a retired judge, was in the blend to the deal between the prosecution and inmates. However, he became (at least) an unwilling accomplice when he stated, “By law if there were deals, they would have to be disclosed,” in response to my jurors’ inquiry, so that convinced my jury it was no deals when in fact it was, and the inmates and prosecutors covered it up. While my defense was based on my innocence and these inmates’ deals.

Beckett v. Haviland is just the latest in a long list of case law that clearly states this practice to be so out of bounds that the only remedy, and I quote: “The only remedy is a new trial.” (See http://gregcurry.weebly.com/gregs-case.html with attached document, Beckett v. Haviland).

Thus far the judicial system has hid behind “procedural” walls to deny me a court hearing. The courts claim it’s too late to seek justice! Can you believe that crap from a world leader in telling other countries what justice is?!

“The only remedy is a new trial.”

A.P.: What were you charged with and did you know those testifying against you? What happened to them?

G.C.: I was indicted for two aggravated murders, found guilty of one and guilty on the other of attempted aggravated murder. All those who testified against me received deals ranging from paroles to lower security to choice cellmates.

A.P.: Greg, it is 20 years now since that ordeal. What is the situation now of your case, and how can we support you?

G.C.: The courts are merely a reflection of a society that “don’t wanna know,” so until people become aware and demand mainstream media look into it and the media asks questions of lawyers and pastors and civil rights leaders, then it will be 20 years more.

Our fight at present is to make people aware, skeptic or not. Just look into it. Our supporters hold rallies and events that cost money so even if you can’t physically come out, help with money. Donations help. Email blast the websites. Get to know us. Just don’t ignore this anymore. It’s been 20 years.

A.P.: Is there anything else you need us to know right now?

G.C.: As of April 11, 2013, many of us are on a hunger strike to demand access to media to tell our stories. So pray for us. But prayer without deeds can’t please our God.

Freedom first,
Greg

Annabelle Parker, who lives in the Netherlands and dedicates her life to supporting prisoners in their struggles for freedom and justice, can be reached at freegregcurry@yahoo.com.

Send our brother some love and light: Greg Curry, 213-159, OSP, 878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road, Youngstown, OH 44505. His website, created and maintained by his supporters, is Gregcurry.org.

Support the hunger strikers

The situation is urgent. As of April 21, Bomani Shakur (Keith LaMar) had already lost 28 pounds!

To support the hunger strikers, call JoEllen Smith, head of the Office of Communications at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) central office, and demand that she and ODRC Director Gary Mohr grant media access for on-camera interviews with the Lucasville hunger striking prisoners. Her number is (614) 752-1159.

Tell the operator you do not want to talk to the warden, because you know that Director Mohr and Communications Director Smith are the actual decision-makers. Tell JoEllen Smith that you believe they are denying this access because they do not want the truth to come out about April of 1993.

Sign the online petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/ohio-department-of-rehabilitation-and-corrections-allow-on-camera-interviews-with-lucasville-uprising-prisoners#.

Learn more at http://www.lucasvilleamnesty.org/2013/04/20th-anniversary-hunger-strike-press.html.

Ex-inmates say innocent men remain on Death Row

From: Columbus Dispatch, April 12th, 2013

Derrick Jamison has moved to Louisiana since his 2005 release from Ohio’s Death Row. But the former Cincinnati resident said he is compelled to return by memories of the men he saw put to death during the 20 years he spent behind bars after being wrongly convicted.

“I watched so many of my friends get murdered. It still haunts me to this day,” he told a group gathered yesterday at Capital University Law School. “They grew up to be strong, healthy young men taken up out of their cells and murdered, strapped down on a gurney … and poison shot into their blood.

“That’s why we do what we do. That’s why we got to speak out … I’m coming back to fight for my people, the guys I left behind on Death Row.”

Jamison, 52; Dale Johnston, 79, of the Grove City area; and Joe D’Ambrosio, 51, of North Olmstead, are part of a statewide “Innocence Tour” sponsored by Ohioans to Stop Executions and Witness to Innocence.
Jamison was convicted in the 1984 death of Cincinnati bartender Gary Mitchell. Johnston was exonerated in 1990 after serving seven years in the dismemberment slayings of his stepdaughter, Annette Cooper, and her friend Todd Schultz in Hocking County. D’Ambrosio was imprisoned nearly 23 years in the 1988 murder of 19-year-old Anthony Klann of Cleveland.

All three men said investigators improperly withheld witnesses or other evidence that could have exonerated them or implicated others in the crimes.

“Hopefully, we can open up some eyes and minds to what is going on in this state because somebody’s got to do something,” D’Ambrosio said. “They’re murdering people in your name. And they’re innocent.”
The men are among six Ohio Death Row inmates who were released after taking an average of 17 years to prove they were wrongfully convicted, said Kevin Werner, the executive director of Ohioans to Stop Executions. Nationwide, 142 Death Row inmates have been released. It took an average of 9.5 years to prove their cases.

Werner urged judicial and legislative leaders to review capital-punishment cases for evidence of ineffective defense attorneys, withheld evidence and other signs of improper convictions.

“I think they ought to review every single individual case on Death Row and look for reasons to say, ‘Maybe we made a mistake’ instead of ‘Let’s just maintain the status quo, uphold convictions, move on,’  ” he said.

Ohio has executed 50 people since it resumed the practice in 1999.

Read the rest here.