Innocent man shares story

Imagine for 26 years you were sent to prison, convicted of a crime you did not commit. That was the reality for Dean Gillispie.

Gillispie and Mark Godsey, Carmichael professor of law and director of the Ohio Innocence Project at the College of Law of the University of Cincinnati, are to present “Wrongful ConvictionGetting the Innocent out of Prison” as Tiffin University’s next Good Morning World Lecture series.

Gillispie was convicted in the rape case of three women in Dayton in 1988. Eyewitnesses linked him to the scene, even though Gillispie claimed he was camping during the time in Kentucky. A federal judge overturned his conviction in December 2011 based

information prosecutors withheld from the jury about the original investigation.

“The topic of wrongful convictions is a major issue in criminal justice today,” said Steve Hurwitz, professor of psychology and criminal justice at TU. “We are fortunate to be able to bring in two speakers who have been at the forefront of this controversy. It is great that we are able to expose our students as well as members of the community to this very important topic.”

Godsey has served on the board of the Innocence Network and has been instrumental in leading the Innocence Movement around the globe. Godsey is a former federal prosecutor and is a scholar and activist on wrongful convictions.

According to the release provided by the university, in the past 25 years, more than 1,200 inmates have been proven innocent and released from prison after serving time for crimes they didn’t commit. The Ohio Innocence Project has been one of the leaders in the movement, releasing 17 innocent Ohio inmates who have together served nearly 300 years in prison.

“I hope students take away a few different things from this,” Hurwitz said. “First, although our legal system is good and one of the best in the world, it is not flawless. We want them to appreciate the power that police and the courts have in denying someone their freedom and also how they also can work to correct mistakes that have been made. Finally, beyond the criminal justice aspect, part of Mr. Gillespie’s story is one of hope and staying true to oneself.”