WESTCHASE, Fla. — Dentists at Westchase in Florida gave Derrick Jamison a new smile at no cost to him.
“I don’t know why they picked me, but I’m glad they picked me,” said Jamison.
There was a time Jamison wasn’t smiling.
“It was a horrible experience. I tell people, most people in America been in jail, but I wasn’t in jail. I was in hell,” he said.
Jamison spent two decades on death row.
“I was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to die in the state of Ohio and I did 20 years on Ohio's death row, for a crime I had nothing to do with,” Jamison said.
He once came within 90 minutes of execution, but his story ended differently. In 2005, Jamison was exonerated and released from prison.
“Remember the day before Christmas when you were a kid and you knew you got all the new toys, new bicycles and stuff? It felt like that,” he explained.
He said his story illustrates everything that is wrong with the death penalty. Jamison now travels the country advocating to have it abolished.
“Got 185 men and women that have been exonerated from a death row in the United States, so that’s why I am so involved with this movement,” Jamison said.
With the confidence that a new smile can bring, Jamison will continue standing in the gap, for those on death row.
“I’m grateful for that and I’m so thankful that they chose to help me through this,” he said.
This story was originally published by Rebecca Petit at WFTS.