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.
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).
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.