This past week has been quite a roller coaster. There is much to share, but I will be brief because there is also much to do. I’m writing to make sure you are up to date on what’s happening and how YOU can be a part of it.
First, the Ohio House of Representatives put H.B. 663, the Secret Executions bill, on greased rails. There is nothing good about this legislation except to say that it has allowed us to forge new relationships with the broader communities of medical associations and groups concerned with open government issues. OTSE is the convener of a number of organizations working to stop this legislation. Hundreds of you took action last week through our website, and just as soon as the legislation is assigned to a Senate committee, we’ll post a new action alert. Please watch for it.
On a much more positive note, the week ended with the exonerations of three men. Brothers Wiley Bridgeman and Ronnie Bridgeman (who now goes by Kwame Ajamu), and Ricky Jackson became Ohio’s 7th, 8th and 9th death row exonerees. The three were wrongfully convicted in Cuyahoga County in 1975. Wiley and Ricky were freed yesterday after 39 years of imprisonment. Kwame was released in 2003 but not officially cleared of wrongdoing until now.
These men spent more than 103 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. In one day, the number of death row exonerations from our state rose from six to nine, and took the national total over 150. This is a somber reminder why our work in 2015 and beyond is so important.
OTSE has been asked to spearhead a fund raising effort for one of the three men, Wiley Bridgeman. We ask you to help Wiley get back on his feet using this link: http://www.gofundme.com/wiley. The Ohio Innocence Project has a page up for Ricky Jackson here, and we are still looking into the needs of Kwame Ajamu. Follow our Twitter and Facebook to stay updated.
The developments of the past week point to one thing: We must abolish the death penalty in Ohio once and for all. Until the legislature is ready to do that, we will be working to implement reform recommendations that will at least make the system more fair and accurate.
To lead on this work, OTSE depends on the support of members like you. While this weekend we ask you to help our new exonerees get back on their feet, please plan now to make the most generous donation possible to OTSE before the end of the year.
Welcome to freedom, Wiley, Ricky and Kwame.
Yours in the struggle,