Men exonerated from death row hope for change

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Two men who spent years on death row for crimes they did not commit hope to sway change when it comes to the death penalty in Missouri.

When a fellow inmate was killed at Moberly Correctional Center in 1983, Reggie Griffin was charged with his crime.

Griffin, who at the time was serving time for assault, was sentenced to death.

“They had the wrong man,” said Griffin.

Griffin has been exonerated, but it took years to get his freedom.

This man’s story is not unique, Joseph Amrine was also wrongfully convicted of a crime and put on death row.

Saturday, the two free men shared their stories with Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty at a meeting at a Kansas City church.

Amrine spent 17 years on death row, Griffin, 23 years.

Both were constantly reminded that their days were numbered.

“They tell you that if your appeals run its course we’re going to kill you,” said Griffin.

In 2011, Griffin’s sentence was overturned. The judge ruling that prosecutors withheld critical evidence that proved he wasn’t involved in the crime.

“Even though I’m home, I still feel like I lost,” said Griffin.

Amrine, who was released from Jail in 2003, says that he was sent out into a world he no longer recognized.

“When I came out they had cell phones, microwaves… there was just a lot of stuff they had when I came out. They didn’t even have microwaves when I got locked up,” said Amrine.

The two men sharing their stories in the hopes of encouraging change in Missouri.

“Who are they to say who lives and who dies? They’re not God,” said Griffin. “If you find out after you kill somebody that they’re actually innocent, what are they going to pump life back into them?”

As of 2017, 158 men have been exonerated in the United States.

Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty report Missouri had one execution in 2017 and one new death sentence. The state has scheduled one execution for 2018.

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