During a Democratic Town Hall in Ohio on March 13, an exonerated inmate who was on death row for 39 years, asked Hillary Clinton about her continuing support on the death penalty.
Ricky Jackson was put in jail in 1975 on the eyewitness testimony of a 12-year-old who identified Jackson as the shooter in a robbery.
Jackson would have been put to death, but Ohio temporarily outlawed the death penalty between the years 1978 and 1981. He was given a life sentence before being freed in 2014 after the key witness recanted his testimony.
In the Town Hall, Jackson challenged Clinton‘s stance on the death penalty:
I came perilously close to my own execution, and in light of that, what I have just shared with you and in light of the fact that there are documented cases of innocent people who have been executed in our country, I would like to know how can you still take your stance on the death penalty in light of what we know right now.
Clinton responded by defending the death penalty, arguing that she would look to limit the use of the death penalty to those who are terrorists.
Where I end up is this, and maybe it is distinction that is hard to support, but at this point, given the challenges we face from terrorist activities primarily in our country that end up under federal jurisdiction for very limited purposes, I think that it can still be held in reserve for those.
The Democratic frontrunner cited the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11 as two examples where the death penalty would be appropriate. She then apologized to Jackson saying that what happened to him was “a travesty.”
Ohio has a long history with the death penalty, housing the electric chair “Old Sparky” which had taken the lives of 315 inmates between 1897 and 1963.
Since 1976, Ohio has killed 53 inmates, and has 143 inmates on death row.