*Hillary Clinton’s support of capital punishment was front and center Sunday night as she defended her stance on the issue when challenged by a former death row inmate who is now exonerated.
CNN reports the confrontation took place during the CNN-TV One town hall event at Ohio State University when Ricky Jackson brought up the issue with the Democratic presidential front-runner regarding her death row penalty support in some instances despite cases involving the wrongful conviction of innocent people.
The topic hits especially close to Jackson, who was freed in 2014 after spending nearly four decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Jackson was 18 when he was convicted for the 1975 killing of a money-order salesman in Cleveland. He was ultimately exonerated after the prosecution’s key witness, who was only 12 years old when he gave his condemning account to police, recanted in court.
“I came perilously close to my own execution,” Jackson said while describing the circumstances of his case and exoneration. He asked the Democratic front-runner, “In light of what I just shared with you and in light of the fact that there are documented cases of innocent people who have been executed in our country, I would like to know how you can still take your stance on the death penalty in light of what you know right now?”
Responding to Jackson, Clinton labeled his question a profoundly difficult one while criticizing the states. In her eyes, Clinton expressed that states “have proven themselves incapable of carrying out fair trials that give defendants the rights that defendants should have.”
“I’ve said I would breathe a sigh of relief if either the Supreme Court or the states themselves began to eliminate the death penalty,” the former secretary of state said.
Despite her criticism of the states, Clinton did not back down from her broader position on the death penalty.
“Where I end up is this, and maybe it’s a distinction that is hard to support, but at this point, given the choices we face from terrorist activities primarily in our country that end up under federal jurisdiction, for very limited purposes, I think it can still be held in reserve for those,” she stated.
Clinton went to emphasize her point by citing the April 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City as one example of the kind of crime she considered punishable by death. The incident, which is noted for being an act of domestic terrorism that killed 168 people,
“That is the exception that I still am struggling with, and it would only be in the federal system,” Clinton said in her two-and-a-half minute response to Jackson.
When asked if Clinton’s answer was “satisfactory for you?” Jackson told TV One’s Roland Martin, “Yes.”
“Thank you very much. Thank you, Senator.”
To see the exchange between Clinton and Jackson, check out the video below: