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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 legal organization at the University of Cincinnati College of Law committed to exonerating wrongfully convicted persons incarcerated in Ohio. OIP seeks to identify inmates in Ohio prisons who were falsely accused and found guilty of the felonies such as robbery, rape, or murder.

Since 2003, more than 40 men and women wrongfully imprisoned and convicted in Ohio have had their wrongful convictions overturned. Those wrongfully convicted of felonies, sentenced from decades to life in prison, and even the death penalty have been exonerated, marking a significant victory in the fight against injustice and wrongful incarceration. Each cleared inmate’s story serves as a testament to the tireless efforts of organizations like the Ohio Innocence Project in seeking justice for the wrongfully imprisoned.

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Exonerated Prisoners in Ohio

 Name Years in  PrisonYear Released
1Gary Reece 25 years2005
2Clarence Elkins7.5 years2005
3Chris Bennett4 years2006
4Bruce Paul14 years2008
5Robert McClendon18 years2008
6Joseph Fears25 years2009
7Nancy Smith15 years2009
8Willie Knighten12 years2009
9Raymond Towler29 years2010
10Teddy Moseley10 years2010
11Wally Zimmer12 years2011
12David Ayers11 years2011
13Roger “Dean” Gillispie20 years2011
14Bryant “Rico” Gaines9 years2012
15Glenn Tinney20 years2013
16Doug Prade15 years2013
17Dewey Jones20 years2014
18Rickey Jackson39 years2014
19Wiley Bridgeman39 years2014
20Kwame Ajamu28 years2014-2015
21Derrick Wheatt18 years2015
22Laurese Glover18 years2015
23Eugene Johnson18 years2015
24Jim Parsons23 years2016
25Evin King23 years2017
26Ruel Sailor15 years2018
27Chris Miller17 years2018
28Charles Jackson27 years2018
29Christopher Smith12 years2020
30Isaiah Andrews45 years2020
31Jerry McMeans30 years2020
32Michael Sutton14 years2021
33Alfred Cleveland Jr.25 years2021
34Eric Brunner13 years2021
35Aaron Culberston Jr.8 years2022
36David Clark30 years2022
37Alan Butts20 years2022
38Wayne Braddy23 years2023
39Karl Willis23 years2023
40Richard Horton16 years2023
41Marcus Sapp13 years2023
42Marty Levingston15 years2023

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Since 1993, the Innocence Project has received over 65,600 letters from incarcerated individuals seeking help in proving their innocence, often due to injustice. The intake team processes the letters chronologically and thoroughly reviews each case request received, striving to uncover exoneration opportunities for those behind bars.

Innocence is often determined by DNA evidence or other forensic evidence, shedding light on wrongful convictions. Still, it can include several types of new evidence, such as unheard eyewitness accounts and confessions, all vital in the fight against injustice. Recent expert testimony, unseen physical evidence, inept prosecutors, or proof of police misconduct can also be classified as new evidence, providing a glimmer of hope for those wrongfully imprisoned.

black man over black background | Exonerated Ohio Prisoners
The Ohio Innocence Project seeks justice for the wrongfully imprisoned.

According to The National Innocence Project, 375 people, including 21 people sentenced to death and served time on death row, have been exonerated through post-conviction DNA testing as of January 2020, highlighting the critical role of DNA evidence in uncovering the truth. The demographics of exonerated Ohio prisoners are not published. However, nationally, more than 60% of people exonerated are of color (African American, Latino, or Asian), while the remainder are white, underscoring the importance of addressing racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Although exact statistics are unknown, studies estimate between 2.3 percent and 5 percent of death row cases in the United States are wrongly convicted, emphasizing the urgency of rectifying these injustices. For context, if just 1 percent of all prisoners are innocent, more than 20,000 innocent people are imprisoned, highlighting the ongoing need to fight for justice and exoneration.

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If you know of an innocent Ohio prisoner who has a wrongful conviction, wrongful imprisonment, or failed by the criminal justice system, complete this Ohio Innocence Project 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.

Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati 
Cincinnati Bar Association
Cincinnati NAACP
Hamilton County Office of Re-entry
Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati
NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
Ohio Justice & Policy Center
Ohio State Bar Association

Related Article: The Cincinnati Hamilton County Office of Reentry offers programs to assist returning citizens

Written by: Crystal Kendrick

The Voice of Black Cincinnati is a media company designed to educate, recognize, and create opportunities for African Americans. Want to find local news, events, job posting, scholarships, and a database of local Black-owned businesses? Visit our homepage, explore other articles, subscribe to our newsletter, like our Facebook page, join our Facebook group, and text VOBC to 513-270-3880.

Exonerated Ohio Prisoners image provided by Adobe Stock

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Written by Sophie Barsan

Sophie Barsan is a writer at The Voice of Black Cincinnati, where she covers events and client -focused content. Sophie's work is central to keeping the community informed about Cincinnati vibrant array of activities and opportunities. Her dedication to exploring and highlighting the city's cultural richness makes her stories a must-read for anyone looking to engage with the local scene. Connect with Sophie on LinkedIn for a deeper look into her articles and contributions.

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