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The number of exonerated Ohio prisoners is growing thanks to the Ohio Innocence Project.

  The Ohio Innocence Project (OIP), is a local legal organization at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, that is committed to exonerating wrongfully convicted people.   Harnessing the energy and intellect of law student as it’s driving force, OIP seeks to identify inmates in Ohio prisons who are actually innocent of the crimes they were convicted of committing. Innocence is often determined by DNA testing but can include other types of new evidence such as eyewitnesses, new expert testimony or evidence of police misconduct. The organization recently celebrated  number 29 and 30 of  exonerated Ohio prisoners.  

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Chris Smith of Cincinnati and Isiah Andrews of Cleveland were exonerated on April 9 and May 1 respectively. Chris, an aspiring musician, spent 12 years in prison for an armed robbery he did not commit. Isiah served 46 years for a murder he did not commit. Both men were high risks for COVID 19 and were released from Ohio prison with the help of UC OIP.   Although there are no published statistics on the demographics of exonerated Ohio prisoners, public images of the exonerees on the OIP website indicate that at least 48% of those exonerated in Ohio are African American males, and at least one exoneree is a female.   According to The National Innocence Project, 350 people, including 20 people  who served time on death row, been exonerated through post-conviction DNA testing since 1989.   Nationally, more than 70% of people exonerated are of color (African American, Latino or Asian) while the remainder is white.    

  Today, there are approximately 300 active cases in the United States.   Every year, more than 3,000 people from across the country write to the Innocence Project for the first time asking for help, and at any given time state agencies are evaluating between 6,000 and 8,000 potential cases.  Each of these cases represents an individual who can potentially be freed of their crimes.   Here is a list of exonerated prisoners in Ohio:

Years in Prison Year Released
1 Gary Reece 25 years 2005
2 Clarence Elkins 7.5 years 2005
3 Chris Bennet 4 years 2006
4 Bruce Paul 14 years 2008
5 Robert McClendon 18 years 2008
6 Joseph Fears 25 years 2009
7 Nancy Smith 15 years 2009
8 Willie Knighten Jr. 12 years 2009
9 Raymond Towler 29 years 2010
10 Teddy Moseley 10 years 2010
11 Wally Zimmer 12 years 2011
12 David Ayers 11 years 2011
13 Dean Gillispie 20 years 2011
14 Rico Gaines 9 years 2012
15 Glenn Tinney 20 years 2013
16 Doug Prade 15 years 2013
17 Dewey Jones 20 years 2014
18 Rickey Jackson 39 years 2014
19 Wiley Bridgeman 39 years 2014
20 Kwame Ajamu 27 years 2014
21 Derrick Wheatt 18 years 2015
22 Laurese Glover 18 years 2015
23 Eugene Johnson 18 years 2015
24 Jim Parsons 23 years 2016
25 Evin King 23 years 2017
26 Ru-El Sailor 15 years 2018
27 Christ Miller 17 years 2018
28 Charles Jackson 27 years 2018

We will never know for sure, but the few studies that have been done estimate that between 2.3% and 5% of all prisoners in the U.S. are innocent (for context, if just 1% of all prisoners are innocent, that would mean that more than 20,000 innocent people are in prison).  

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  If you know of an Ohio  prisoner who may qualify for the Ohio Innocence Project, complete this application. Ohio Innocence Project Application The Rosenthal Institute for Justice was established at the UC College of Law thanks to the generosity of Lois and Richard Rosenthal.   The Voice of Black Cincinnati is a media company designed to educate, recognize and create opportunities for African Americans in the region. Visit our homepage, explore other articles, subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on Facebook or text VOBC to 797979 for local news, events, job postings, scholarships and a database of local Black-owned businesses.

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  1. What if you have gotten out, only you were never guilty, and because its still on your record, its very hard if not impossible to get a Good Paying job, even according to your skill sets~ my question is do you help with getting charges off your record for people that can not afford it?

    1. Thank you for visiting our website. We invite you to contact OIP and Legal Aid of SW Ohio for additional information. They may be able to assist or provide additional information.

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