Derrick Jamison Speaks on His Wrongful Conviction as Ohio Considers Abolishing the Death Pen
WKRC: Two bills Ohio Legislature could end death penalty in state
By: David Winter
December 3, 2021
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Ohio is getting as close as it’s come in years to abolishing the death penalty. Two bills making their way through the legislature represent a new lease on life for some and endless pain to others.
Derrick Jamison, now in Florida, described to us his 20 years on Ohio’s death row for a 1985 murder in Cincinnati for which he was cleared in 2005 after nearly getting the needle six times.
“It was awful, man. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be there, you know? I was innocent. I’m watching all my friends being executed around me.”
“What was it like when you got out?” we asked.
“It was a beautiful thing, sir. It was like the day before Christmas, you know? If I could bottle up that feeling and sell it, I’d be a billionaire, you know?”
State Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Clermont County) says capital punishment needs to end in Ohio. She was a longtime proponent of the death penalty but has now introduced one of two bills making their way through the legislature that would abolish capital punishment in Ohio. She now believes too many innocent people are getting put to death.
“You had heard in the past there were innocent people getting executed,” we asked her. “What changed your mind?”
“I met one,” she replied. “Joe D’Ambrosio.”
D’Ambrosio was found to be innocent of the murder that put him on death row. It changed Schmidt, but she faces tough questions from those who still want the death penalty as an option.
“What if it were your child who were murdered?” we posed to her.
“If it were my child murdered,” she paused, “I would want them to be in prison for the rest of their life, never seeing the light of day.”
But relatives of the four people in West Chester who were killed in 2019 say they feel differently. Nirbhai Singh wants his nephew, Gurpreet Singh, put to death if he’s convicted of the murders. We told him about the bills to abolish the death penalty.
“No!” he said emphatically. “We are angry with that. We request the lawmakers, please do not pass the law.”
It’s a plea that will weigh heavily on Ohio lawmakers as they weigh these latest attempts to abolish capital punishment.
Last December, Gov. Mike DeWine called for a moratorium on capital punishment in Ohio until the legislature approves a more viable method for executions.
There are currently 135 people on Ohio’s death row.