BY JAN WIEBE
First Mennonite Church was a co-sponsor of The Ohio Innocence Tour that stopped in Lima on October 11th. The purpose of the tour was to heighten awareness of the movement to repeal the death penalty and to support the bipartisan bills before Ohio’s House and Senate. Three death row exonerees (two from Ohio) spoke about their wrongful convictions. Kwame Ajamu, Derrick Jamison and Ray Krone are just four among hundreds of people across the United States who have been found innocent while on death row. Kwame spent 28 years in prison based on the coerced eyewitness testimony of a 13-year-old boy who recanted decades later. Jamison was exonerated after a federal judge requested
a new trial for Jamison, and it was discovered that the prosecutor withheld key evidence from the trial. He was released from prison exactly 20 years from the day he entered. After Ray Krone had served more than ten years in prison, DNA testing proved his innocence.
The event was held at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Lima, with around 120 in attendance, including over 30 from FMC. Sister Alice Gerdeman from Ohioans to Stop Executions explained the current legislative situation in Ohio, and attendees wrote postcards to their Ohio representatives. Pastor Phil Yoder closed the evening with prayer.
During the current lame duck session, Ohio lawmakers have the opportunity to abolish the death penalty and become the 24th state to cut ties with capital punishment. The death penalty is racist, costly, and arbitrary. The system carries with it the inherent risk of executing an innocent person.