Meet Roger Dean Gillispie at the Scheben Branch on Wednesday, October 19 at 6:30 p.m., when he shares his experience serving 20 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Please register for this program so we can make accommodations for everyone.
When Dean sat down with his family for Christmas dinner in December of 2011, it was the first time he had done so in more than 20 years. Upon his release from the London Correctional Institution, his family and friends were there to greet him. Earlier that month, the U.S District Court for the Southern District of Ohio overturned Mr. Gillispie’s 1991 rape conviction.
Work by the Ohio Innocence Project on behalf of Dean began in 2003 and over the years more than 20 law students worked on Mr. Gillispie’s case. The Innocence Project spent five years researching and investigating, it was not until 2008 that the case seeking his exoneration was finally brought to court. Throughout this process, as an avid fisherman, it was the hope that he would one day be free to fish again that allowed Dean to keep his sanity during his imprisonment.
In addition to Mr. Gillispie’s discussion of his experiences, staff from the University of Cincinnati’s Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice Ohio Innocence Project will discuss their fascinating and important work. Founded in 1992, the Innocence Project is an organization with networks across the United States and around the globe whose mission is to exonerate and support the innocent and redress the causes of wrongful conviction. By providing pro bono legal and investigative services, the Innocence Project assists those seeking to prove their innocence for crimes they did not commit. Using methods such as DNA evidence not tested before trial, or other types of new evidence, staff and students spend countless hours conducting research and meeting with inmates about their cases. Through the exhaustive work of law students and staff at the Ohio Innocence Project, 23 individuals wrongly convicted of crimes have gained back their freedom.
The Road to Innocence is presented as part of BCPL’s involvement in the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read. The NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Showcasing a diverse range of contemporary titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, the NEA Big Read aims to inspire conversation and discovery. This year’s Big Read title is A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. We encourage everyone to join us in reading this book tied to themes of race, justice and dying with dignity. A free copy of A Lesson Before Dying will be given to the first 100 people in attendance at “The Road to Innocence” on October 19.
Dean Gillispie’s case is discussed in great detail in the book False Justice: Eight Myths that Convict the Innocent written by former Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro and his wife Nancy. The Road to Innocence is presented in conjunction with University of Cincinnati and the Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice Ohio Innocence Project.
Amy Beckham Foster has been the Scheben Branch Manager since 2011. Prior to joining the staff of Boone County Public Library she was a law librarian working in law firms and in academia, most recently as Head of Public Services at the University of Kentucky College of Law Library.