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From death row to elusive freedom

Oct 06, 2010

from the article by Ron Keine on Other Words:

Now I can eat eggs every morning. But every night I relive my death row experiences. Every day, I still struggle to contain the anger rising inside of me.

Frankly, every time I awaken from this nightmare of finding myself back on death row, I'm embarrassed. I have been out for a long time. I should be over it by now. But every time I get lost in a book or daydream, when I wake up in the morning, or look up from a crossword puzzle or read a newspaper, the feeling creeps up on me. I'm back on death row. And I am not alone.

With the other exonerated death-row survivors I work with, we often talk about our mutual feeling of never feeling really free. Death row is a special hell for innocent people. We were going to be murdered as punishment for crimes we did not commit. And we were the lucky ones who were exonerated. Others were executed who were as innocent as we were. Think about that.

So I have the deepest respect and admiration for people like Juan Melendez, Ray Krone, Gary Gauger, Freddie Lee Pitts, and the others who travel around our country speaking about our experiences on death row to anyone who will listen. We are black, brown, and white, conservative and liberal, rural and urban, but we have all dedicated our lives to sharing our stories with our fellow Americans, so that the United States will join the rest of the civilized world in abolishing the death penalty.

But just before a speech or an interview, we gather together. We lend support to each other for the next small step in our journey as death row survivors. We're vigilant about each other's psychological state, because we silently know that even though the audience will not see it, every time we talk about our experiences it puts us right back on death row. The cruel and unusual Groundhog Day we relive every time we publicly speak at colleges, churches, and civic organizations won't end until the death penalty does.

Read the whole article.

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Lisa Rea
Lisa Rea says:
Oct 06, 2010 08:44 PM

Thank you for posting this article by Ron Keine, an innocent man who served time on death row. Restorative justice applies to terrible cases like these. In his case, there is not one victim but two. Restitution should always be paid out to innocent men and women. But as we see from Ron's very personal story the impact is severe and long-lasting after an innocent person is released from prison. <br /> <br />In addition, however, those who had a hand in convicting and sentencing innocent individuals should be held accountable. This is even more critical when the innocent person is on death row. What kind of safeguards are in place to stop this from happening again? <br /> <br />Stories like Ron Keine's are unfortunately not unique in the U.S. That is why the work of groups like the Innocence Project and Centurion Ministries is so important. I see the need for systemic reform based on restorative justice as even more important after seeing just how broken our justice system is. <br /> <br />Lisa Rea <br />

Ron Keine
Ron Keine says:
Oct 06, 2010 11:55 PM

Thank you my brothers and friends for your kind words. In sitting down to write this paper I had to ask myself the question &quot; Is it really worth the retraumatisation I will endure by writeing about these things ?&quot; the answer was a resounding &quot; YES &quot; People need to know these things. People need to know that there are almost 140 other death row exonorees and countless other wrongfully convicted who suffer these ordeals at the hands of a broken justice system. <br />Lisa. wrongful convictions will prevail as long as the Supreme Court gives immunity to prosecutors. there is no check and balance system for them. they do what they want with no remorse or recourse. Some are smug and brazen about it. To quote one prosecutor &quot; Any prosecutor can convict a guilty man. It takes a hell of a good one to convict an innocent one&quot;.

Lisa Rea
Lisa Rea says:
Oct 09, 2010 12:46 AM

Thank you, Ron, for coming online here and being available to communicate with readers. <br /> <br />I met Ron when I attended an event in Texas in 2007 (?) sponsored by the Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing at the urging of its founder,Bill Pelke. While I have worked on restorative justice issues since 1992, with great passion, I have always been deeply affected by the raw injustice of wrongful convictions. Meeting the real human beings in person, like Ron Keine, who have suffered in this way deepened my interest in this problem. <br />It cannot be ignored. <br /> <br />I agree with you, Ron, there are no safeguards built into the justice system to hold offenders accountable when they &quot;get it wrong.&quot; I think that prosecutors, and others, who err have to be held accountable in some way. I think this needs to be examined system-wide. We elected district attorneys in this country which is part of the problem. The Webb Commission which will take a look at the justice system in the U.S., I believe, will include this topic of wrongful convictions. But that is obviously just the start. <br /> <br />Ron and other exonerees travel around the country, and beyond, telling their stories about their experiences serving time for crimes they did not commit or as with Ron's case doing time on death row as an innocent man. <br /> <br />God bless, <br /> <br />Lisa Rea

mpagi Edward Edmary
mpagi Edward Edmary says:
Oct 07, 2010 10:33 AM

My name is mpagi Edward Edmary,am a former death row inmate convicted of alleged murder of a person who was actually alive. <br />i will never forget the prison guards who used to carry out executions,the way they hand picked the inmates to be executed,it was not human at all. <br />i feel sad when some members of the public think death row is for criminals only,with a rotten justice system any member of society can be a victim of death penalty ,we should hold hands together to end the existence of the death penalty.

Kathy Chism
Kathy Chism says:
Oct 17, 2010 12:17 AM

Instead of harboring resentment, anger, and bitterness about the nearly 20 years Edward spent on death row under Idi Amin's reign of terror in Uganda as an innocent man, he instead wanted to look to the future and focus on building a school for the 150 orphaned children in his village. <br /> <br />In Uganda, when a child is orphaned, they are forced to leave school because they can no longer pay the school fees. Edward's dream was to build a school where there would be no such fees, and these children would be guaranteed a quality education. <br /> <br />Edward contacted me - I had a heart pull to the project, said yes, and in December of 2009 we broke ground on the first building for the complex, the library named &quot;Wisdom!&quot; <br /> <br />We are an all-volunteer, grass roots 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization where 100% of donations go to their designated projects. If you would like to become part of Edward's dream, please visit www.dreamoneworld.org to learn more, see photos and a video of the project, and contribute. <br /> <br />(The walls of the library are finished - now we need funds to put on the roof. This library will initially act as a classroom for all the students until the individual class buildings are all built.) <br /> <br />You may also join the Dream One World group page on Facebook! We will LOVE to welcome you to the Dream One World family... <br /> <br />With Love and Gratitude, <br />Kathy Chism <br />Founder/Director/CED* <br />(*Chief Executive Dreamer!) <br />Dream One World <br />www.dreamoneworld.org

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