Ronald Jones is one of the 13 innocent men released from Illinois' death row over the past 13 years.
[CEDP] How many years did you spend on death row?
[Ronald Jones] I got convicted in 1989. I stayed on death row until 1997. So that's eight years. That's not including the four years I spent at the county jail waiting for trial and the two years I spent at the county jail waiting for my case to get dismissed.
Public opinion against the death penalty has grown sharply in the last few months -- a development that abolitionists have been fighting to bring about for a long time.
Support for the death penalty nationally has fallen to its lowest point since 1981, according to a recent Gallup poll. Just six years ago, support for the death penalty hit a very high 80 percent, but since then, it has declined 14 percentage points to 66 percent.
In late April, the U. S. Supreme Court upheld the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.
President Bill Clinton signed this act into law essentially to speed up the appeals process for death row cases by making it more difficult for federal courts to intervene, review and challenge decisions made by state courts.
The Death Row Ten are prisoners on Illinois' death row who were beaten and tortured by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and his detectives. In 1993, Burge was forced to take early retirement and now spends his time fishing on his boat in Florida. But Burge and his cronies were never criminally charged.
In the summer of 1998, the Death Row Ten decided to form themselves into a group and asked the Campaign to End the Death Penalty to help them organize.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Eugene Colvin-El's final federal appeal in April, clearing the way for the state of Maryland to set an execution date of June 12.
Eugene's only hope for avoiding the death chamber now lies with Maryland Gov. Paris Glendening. But abolitionists have been using the moratorium victory in Illinois to build strong opposition to another state-sponsored murder in Maryland.
In 1996, the Emmy Award-winning documentary Paradise Lost exposed the many injustices in the 1993 "Satanic ritual" murder trial that convicted the West Memphis Three -- Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin. The documentary revealed the gross misconduct of police, prosecutors and judges in the case of three teenage boys who were wrongfully accused of a grisly triple murder of three 8-year-old boys.
My name is Keith Lamar, and I'm writing to share a little piece I wrote in response to several suicides that occurred here last year at the new Supermax in Youngstown, Ohio.
Being a condemned prisoner myself, I am well aware of the extreme pressure that one encounters as one awaits the balance of an unknown and precarious fate. And I simply want to encourage those who remain trapped inside the mouth of this machine to not give up hope. As the pendulum of madness swings back towards more sane territory, it's important that we remain strong in heart and spirits.
My name is Donnetta Hill. I'm a 33-year-old woman and mother of two daughters, ages 9 and 12 years old.
In April 1992, I was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death with a court-appointed public defender who did nothing to defend me -- he had no experience with how to handle a death penalty case. I have had three to four court-appointed public defenders working on my appeals, and none of them knew anything for years.
I'm writing to share the enclosed pamphlets. I'm no great writer but have been struggling to put together a committee. I am not one who has the right to claim actual innocence. But I do claim innocence with responsibility!
At any rate, I have just read the New Abolitionist and thought maybe some of my words may be useful. I'm sure the argument has been heard many times, but in the event it has not -- closed lips don't get heard!