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 New Orleans, 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.”
Read a great feature on Derrick in the Dayton City Paper: www.daytoncitypaper.com