22/32 Years Wrongly on Ohio’s Death Row: #WrongfulConvictionDay
It is #WrongfulConvictionDay. We get to lift up the fact that wrongful convictions are very real. One study says as many as 4% of all of those currently on death row are actually innocent of the crimes they were convicted of.
When these men and women use their Voices of Experience to help others understand the issue, it changes hearts and minds. We are grateful for those death row survivors who are able to do so.
Today Death Penalty Action thanks the death row survivors who serve on our Board of Advisors: Kwame Ajamu, Anthony Graves, Sunny Jacobs, Derrick Jamison, and also George White, who faced the death penalty at trial and received a life sentence. Today we are excited welcome our two newest advisory board members, Ahmad Issa, who is pictured above, and Anthony Apanovitch.
I ask for two special favors from you to help each of these men.
Ahmad Issa survived 22 years of incarceration as a result of his wrongful conviction in Ohio — most of that on death row for a crime he did not commit. When his conviction was thrown out, prosecutors threatened him with another trial, and offered him a deal: Plea to a lesser offense and be released with time served, or risk being reconvicted and returned to death row. As a Muslim immigrant in today’s atmosphere, Ahmad took the deal. No apology. No compensation. Just deportation. Just as I have done for many death row survivors, I have personally been raising funds to help Ahmad. We set a goal of $1K per year of incarceration. Today we’ll cross the $10K hurdle on our way to $22K. Ahmad hopes to buy a car so that he can become self-employed as a driver. I will take it as a personal favor if you would click here to learn more and contribute to the fund, and also invite others to join you.
Anthony Apanovitch and I go way way back to the early 1990’s. He wrote a letter to Amnesty International which made its way to me. I started visiting and writing him — my first of many death row pen pals. Tony maintained his innocence from the start. In 2016 Tony’s conviction was thrown out, and the judge was so unconcerned about him being a danger that he let Tony wait for the state’s appeal on house arrest with just an ankle monitor. For more than 20 months Tony was in relative freedom after 32 YEARS on Ohio’s death row for a crime that DNA evidence proves he did not do. The state won its appeal of the ruling on a technicality. It had nothing to do with the fact that the evidence used to convict Tony was proven wrong. They hauled Tony back to death row, where he awaits a review of that decision, and may have to start his appeal again from scratch. Please go to this web site to learn more, and to view and share a short video about the case. Thank you.
I check in with Ahmad almost every day. Tony calls me every few days. When Tony was on monitored house arrest he was allowed to leave for short windows of time, and we spoke publicly several times. Ahmad, Kwame Ajamu and I will be doing an on-line event together next week, on World Day Against the Death Penalty. More about all of that next week.
For now, I hope you will support me by following through with my two requests, above.
What else can you do?
Act now to help stop the federal executions:
- Sign and share the petition to Congress to end federal executions.
- Visit our federal executions resource page for a list of action opportunities
- Have your faith community, club, team, business, civic group, etc. sign the organizational sign-on letter to congress, here
- Sign petitions on other state cases here, including our newest petition to end executions forever in Ohio!
- Click here to get t-shirts, masks, and ANNOUNCING, now you can also order yard signs here.
Abraham J. Bonowitz
Director, Death Penalty Action