One For Ten: Innocent People Freed from Death Row

by JoHarrington

Documentary film-makers are set to launch an anti-death penalty campaign. They will travel across the USA interviewing those exonerated of all crimes.

For every ten people executed in the United States of America, one person is found innocent and freed.

These are individuals who have been on Death Row, after a courtroom initially found them guilty. Some were there for decades. Then advances in DNA prove that they weren't at the crime scene; or an eye-witness comes forward to tell what wasn't told at the trial.

Their stories will be told in a series of on-line documentaries entitled One. For. Ten.

One For Ten: Innocent on Death Row

There is an assumption that everyone facing the execution chamber is guilty of some crime. The chilling statistics show that this is not always the case.

Every Tuesday and Friday night, over the course of five weeks in April-May 2013, the One for Ten team will be releasing another short film on-line. 

Each one features interviews with an individual freed from Death Row, after a judge and jury found them innocent.

It's a new kind of film-making, which will involve the internet and social networking, in a bid to get these stories out.  The people behind the project are calling it a 'democratic documentary.'   They've also attracted some big names.  Actor and director Danny Glover has provided the voice-over for the pilot film.

One for Ten seeks to highlight the fact that due process is failing in the USA.   Since 1973, a total of 142 innocent people have been set free after serving time on Death Row.  In some cases, they were there for over twenty years.  The latest was Seth Penalver, who was acquitted on December 21st 2012, thirteen years after he was sentenced to death.

The movie-makers find it unacceptable that any innocent person is ever placed in that situation.  Their films ask the pertinent question - how many more are still serving time, or have already been killed, who were not guilty? 

It raises the specter that no American citizen is safe.  They cannot assume that they will escape Death Row merely by not committing a crime.  Those 142 Americans once thought like them too.

One For Ten Pilot Film - Ray Krone

Kill Anyone! Justice Must be Seen to be Done

These stories suggest a kind of lottery, where sentencing the right person to death isn't that important. As long as someone is killed, people feel safe.

Amongst the true life tales told by One For Ten is that of Derrick Jamison.  He spent 21 years on Ohio's Death Row, before a jury found him innocent. 

At one point during that time, he was just one hour from death.  A last minute reprieve saved him from the gurney.

He had been awaiting his date with the executioner for the murder of James Suggs, a bartender.  There were plenty of eye-witnesses, all of whom describe someone quite different in appearance to Mr Jamison.  But their testimonies were blocked by the prosecution during the original trial.  Instead they relied upon the statement of a felon, who was offered a reduced sentence to point the finger at Mr Jamison.

Justice was seen to be done, right up until the time when the truth came out.  By then, Mr Jamison had spent over two decades on Death Row, afraid that he would be killed there.  Meanwhile, the real murderer ran free.

Then there was Ronald Kitchen, who was released after thirteen years on Death Row in Illinois. He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  When he was arrested for murder, he was taken into a police cell and beaten by officers in the head and groin.  He confessed to stop them hitting him.

Once he was incarcerated, his cell-mate was offered a reduced sentence to claim that Mr Kitchen had confessed to him too.  Willie Williams promptly did just that, but the jury never heard about the personal benefit in his testimony.

Mr Jamison and Mr Kitchen are just two Americans, whose stories will be told in interviews conducted by One For Ten.

Books About Americans Exonerated from Death Row

Read these true accounts of innocent people caught up in a nightmare, whereby the state sentences them to death.
Updated: 03/15/2014, JoHarrington
 
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JoHarrington on 08/18/2013

We can but hope. But way too many times, they aren't.

cmoneyspinner on 08/16/2013

Now that we have DNA the statistics will have to be revisited and recompiled.

JoHarrington on 03/14/2013

Catana mentioned one, but they're focusing solely on Texas.

BrendaReeves on 03/14/2013

Someone needs to start a nonprofit charity to fund DNA testing.

JoHarrington on 03/14/2013

There's still a problem with many defendants unable to afford the full range of DNA testing. It would be lovely if it was perfect, but unfortunately money still gets in the way.

BrendaReeves on 03/14/2013

Jo, this is something I think about often. Just think of all the innocent people who have been executed over the years. Our justice system doesn't seek the truth. Defense attorneys outright lie and make up grandiose stories to sway the jury, i.e. Casey Anthony's father molesting her. Judges withhold important information from the jurors. A lot was withheld in the O.J. trial, i.e. DNA evidence. Nobody wants to convict a celebrity. Most jurors are just plain stupid! Luckily we have DNA now.

JoHarrington on 03/05/2013

Me too, though there's a disparity between those who can afford extensive DNA testing/analysis and those who have to rely on the state to get it right. There are many people actually on Death Row, who really would like their DNA tested, but can't get the funding.

It's a horrific situation.

Ragtimelil on 03/04/2013

Dang. I keep losing my comments. Anyway, no, it was another situation when people lost control of their lives. Glad they developed DNA testing.

JoHarrington on 03/04/2013

Was it a book about innocent people on Death Row? And yes, it is very creepy.

Ragtimelil on 03/04/2013

Very creepy - not the article, but the subject I mean. I read a book that scared me and I have nightmares about stuff like this. It's good to get it out though.


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