Derrick Jamison was an innocent man who spent nearly 20 years on Ohio’s death row for a murder and robbery he did not commit. When James Suggs, an eyewitness to the killing of a Cincinnati bartender, was shown photos of suspects by police, he identified two men — but neither of them was Derrick Jamison.
Not only was this information withheld from Derrick’s trial, but his co-defendant was promised a reduced sentence in exchange for implicating Derrick. Based on this false testimony, Derrick was convicted in 1985.
In February 2005, Ohio Common Pleas Judge Richard Niehaus dismissed all charges against Derrick, three years after his conviction was overturned. Two federal courts ruled that the prosecution’s actions denied Derrick a fair trial.
Today, Derrick is fully aware of the inequality of the criminal justice system. “There is a double standard when it comes to justice in our judicial system, especially with wrongful conviction,” he says. “If you are a minority or a low-income citizen, the pursuit of justice can be an elusive one. But if you are rich, it happens overnight.”
Derrick currently resides in Cincinnati, where he expresses daily gratitude for his release. “In the 20 years I experienced ‘dead man walking’ I never had anything to smile about,” he says, “but on that day, I felt the smile come from within my heart. The sun shone down on me that day.”
Andrea Koverman is a newly vowed member of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. After graduating from Miami University of Ohio with a degree in Special Education, she taught public school students of the Gullah community on the sea islands of coastal South Carolina. While teaching, she earned National Board Certification and Master’s degrees in curriculum and educational leadership. Upon entering formation with her community, she relocated to the El Paso area and taught in a Catholic school serving mostly Hispanic children and children of military servicemen and women. She witnessed the realities of our immigration system while assisting the sisters at their center for mothers of severely disabled children in Anapra, a colonia of Juarez, Mexico. In addition, Andrea has had the opportunity to visit the countries of Guatemala, Haiti and Palestine which fueled her desire to dedicate her energies to addressing social justice issues. Andrea is the program manager at the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center in Cininnati where she develops education and advocacy opportunities around the issues of the death penalty, human trafficking, and peace and nonviolence.
Melinda Elkins-Dawson, Chair
Melinda is the Chair of the OTSE Board. She was elected to serve in this capacity in 2014. Her personal story with Ohio’s death penalty is remarkable. Melinda’s mother, Judith Johnson, was murdered in 1998. Melinda spent the next eight years of her life working to prove the innocence of her then-husband Clarence Elkins, who was wrongfully convicted of the murder. Melinda’s family began to move forward with their lives in 2008 when the true culprit was brought to justice. Her exhaustive work, and that of the Ohio Innocence Project, led to the exoneration of Clarence Elkins in 2005.
Check out & RSVP for the related Meetups this month
Aug 11 - Movie Night: The Life of David Gale (http://www.meetup.com/Tri-State-Freethinkers/events/232920918/)
Aug 18 - Tri-State FreeReaders: Convicting the Innocent by Brandon Garrett (http://www.meetup.com/Tri-State-Freethinkers/events/232568985/)
Aug 25 - Movie Night: Documentary & Discussion (http://www.meetup.com/Tri-State-Freethinkers/events/232921039/)