Ohio Produces Nation's 140th Death Row Exoneration

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Joe D’Ambrosio is free.  He spent more than 20 years on death row, and almost two more years waiting while the state of Ohio – whose prosecutors had withheld key evidence from his defense – tried to go after him again.  Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court closed the book on his case.  Joe D’Ambrosio is the 140th person exonerated from U.S. death rows since 1973, and the 6th from Ohio.

Is this exoneration an example of the system working?  Hardly.  Mr. D’Ambrosio’s exoneration came about because of a chance meeting with a Catholic priest who was visiting another inmate.  The priest, Rev. Neil Kookoothe, happened to have legal training and decided to look into the case himself.  As Kevin Werner, executive director of Ohioans to Stop Executions, put it: “Coincidence is not the standard we should be comfortable with when our justice system is seeking to execute people.”

Ohio is the 2nd executingist state in the land, but problems with botched executions and wrongful convictions have triggered a serious debate about the future capital punishment in the Buckeye State. Recently, the Supreme Court judge who, as a legislator, helped write Ohio’s current death penalty law called forcefully for its repeal.   A study is underway questioning how Ohio administers capital punishment.  Given that the answer is likely to be “not very well”, Ohio should at least halt executions while this study is going on.

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2 thoughts on “Ohio Produces Nation's 140th Death Row Exoneration

  1. It is truly wonderful for Joe D’Ambrosio that the Supreme Court saw fit to reverse the error that has cost him 22 years of his life – but the fact of the matter is that it COULD have cost him his life completely, were it not for the chance meeting with a priest who happened to have had some legal training. Justice should not be predicated on luck, it should be founded on a universal fairness meted out to every individual, regardless of their socio-economic standing – ie., their ability to purchase the best justice that money can buy. How many others are there languishing across the nation, waiting to have their lives extinguished by the state while their cries of innocence go unheard. "Everyone claims they're innocent on Death Row" – I've heard that said on documentaries that have been made about various prisons – but maybe, just maybe, some of the inmates are telling the truth. At least 140 have been proven innocent since 1973 – and it's difficult to believe that full judicial reviews (comprehensive reviews) were made of every single capital case since then – so, on purely statistical grounds, it's reasonable to assume that the 140 number is only a shadow of the number of innocent individuals who have been executed by the state for crimes they did not commit. The death penalty must be abolished: it does not prevent crime, it leads to the deaths of innocent lives.

  2. It is truly wonderful for Joe D’Ambrosio that the Supreme Court saw fit to reverse the error that has cost him 22 years of his life – but the fact of the matter is that it COULD have cost him his life completely, were it not for the chance meeting with a priest who happened to have had some legal training. Justice should not be predicated on luck, it should be founded on a universal fairness meted out to every individual, regardless of their socio-economic standing – ie., their ability to purchase the best justice that money can buy. How many others are there languishing across the nation, waiting to have their lives extinguished by the state while their cries of innocence go unheard. “Everyone claims they’re innocent on Death Row” – I’ve heard that said on documentaries that have been made about various prisons – but maybe, just maybe, some of the inmates are telling the truth. At least 140 have been proven innocent since 1973 – and it’s difficult to believe that full judicial reviews (comprehensive reviews) were made of every single capital case since then – so, on purely statistical grounds, it’s reasonable to assume that the 140 number is only a shadow of the number of innocent individuals who have been executed by the state for crimes they did not commit. The death penalty must be abolished: it does not prevent crime, it leads to the deaths of innocent lives.