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A Grave Miscarriage of Justice
May 7 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
DEATH ROW SURVIVOR JIMMY DENNIS TO SPEAK
Easton, PA – On Tuesday, May 7, Jimmy Dennis will share some of his experiences of the 25+ years that he spent on Pennsylvania’s death row. In what a federal court judge called “a grave miscarriage of justice” prosecutors kept evidence from the defense and allowed a witness to give testimony that they knew was false. The judge ruled that Dennis “was wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to die for a crime in all probability he did not commit.”
While Dennis was fighting to prove his innocence, two Lafayette College students, Emilie Henry (2019) and Andrew Keck (2016) became familiar with Jimmy’s case while interning with Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. They were so outraged by what they learned that they launched a statewide education campaign based on Jimmy’s story. “I’m so proud of the work that they did. It’s personal stories that change hearts and minds and Jimmy’s needed to be told.” Said Kathleen Lucas, executive director of Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Henry, Keck, and Dennis will be together for the first time at Tuesday’s event.
Last week, Dennis joined legislators from both chambers and both sides of the aisle to advocate for the abolition of capital punishment in Pennsylvania. State Representatives Chris Rabb (D-Philadelphia) and Francis Ryan (R-Lebanon) along with Senators Katie Muth (D-Berks, Chester, Montgomery) and Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) announced that they will be co-sponsoring a bill to end capital punishment.
Since 1976, 165 people have been exonerated in the United States after being convicted and sentenced to death. A 2014 National Academy of Sciences study found that at least 4.1% of defendants sentenced to death in the United States are innocent. The actual number of innocent people who have been sentenced to death is likely much higher than the 165 who have been exonerated.
The 2018 Report of the Task Force and Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment in Pennsylvania highlighted significant and systemic flaws with the Commonwealth’s death penalty system. Many of these had been identified in previous studies. Pennsylvania still fails to meet most of the American Bar Association’s recommended best practices in capital cases.
The event, sponsored by the Lafayette Amnesty International student group and the Lafayette College Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, is free and open to the public.