Convicted for the murder of Bertram Thomas in Springfield, OH. during the Winter of 1996, Jermane Scott has spent the entirety of his adult life serving life without parole in various Ohio prisons. Whilst always maintaining his innocence, it has not been until this year that Scott has succeeded in gaining legal representation to appeal his conviction.
Due in large part to the tireless work of advocates, Scott’s case caught the attention of Georgetown University, and specifically, the universities Prisons & Justice Initiative. The universities ‘Making an Exoneree‘ program, lead by Marc Howard and Marty Tankleff–himself the victim of a wrongful conviction due to a coerced confession–allows students to study cases of likely wrongful conviction.
2020 saw the class running for its third year, and has perhaps been most notable for helping to highlight the wrongful conviction, and subsequent exoneration of Valentino Dixon.
Students studying Scott’s case, made a short documentary highlighting certain key aspects of his conviction that have raised red flags as to their validity. In doing so, the ‘Making a Exoneree’ program helped gain the attention of Ice Miller LLP; and led to their representation of Scott, along with Howard and Tankleff.
Since Scott’s last ‘Journal‘ entry, much has transpired. Along with positive developments in his bid to expose his wrongful conviction, Covid-19 has affected the everyday lives of the vast majority of people the world over, yet perhaps most at risk have been those incarcerated. Unable to take the necessary precautions to lessen the likelihood of infection, prisoners have found themselves more susceptible than most, and tellingly without the appropriate medical care needed if they were to contract the virus.
Scott’s latest Journal entry details this exact fear, and one which would become a reality.
Covid-19, and it’s impact on prisoners:
It has been quite some time since I last completed a journal entry to share the wild emotional rollercoaster ride that is correcting a miscarriage of justice.
A lot of things have transpired this year, and being blessed by the kindness and bravery of my attorney’s is just one highlight of my year in prison.
The other ‘highlight’ is contracting covid-19 in prison. This is my story, and I just wanted to highlight how little regard for human life there is inside prison.
I started to experience symptoms one day. At first I thought it was just a common cold, until I started to get physically weak to the point where I could not even get out of the bed. Once I reached that point, I had my cellmate alert staff as I started having trouble breathing. Staff pressed their medical alarm button and subsequently medical staff arrived; asked me what my issues were? I explained that I was having trouble breathing, and the nurse started taking my vital signs, but she also made a mockery of my medical emergency by stating, ”He can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, where have we heard that statement before?” clearly referencing the tragic death/murder of George Floyd.
My humiliation did not stop there as I was subjected to questions of having some sort of narcotic episode; which I vehemently denied as I have been drug free for over 24 years.
After enduring that process as a precaution, I was taken to the medical infirmary where I underwent another temperature check, and in the space of a couple of minutes it took to get me to the medical infirmary from my cellblock, my temperature went from 96° to 102°. I was immediately placed in an intake cell.
The next morning I was given a Covid-19 test. Whilst waiting for those test results the prison’s way of treating covid-19 was a bag off ice and 2 aspirin once a day. That was the extent of their medical care. Once my test results came back positive, I was sent to an old abandoned death row block where the living conditions weren’t fit for someone’s pet. There was zero ventilation; no electrical outlets, along with only cold water for the single shower that was operable.
I personally spoke with the medical administrator here at the prison about the living conditions, and her response was cruel. She stated, ”Just be happy you aren’t on a ventilator fighting for your life”. There was zero compassion for the 19+ prisoners that were clearly ill from contracting covid-19.
This practice is still ongoing as I write this experience out for the public to read.
Human beings are suffering in prison just as well as in society. The only difference is prisoner lives are expendable in the eyes of the government officials, and we as prisoners know this firsthand. We just want to create awareness on how this is impacting the entire prison population from a mental health viewpoint. There is a lot of despair right now, and with the major holiday season in full swing we are only looking for some compassion.
As you get ready to enjoy these upcoming holidays, please remember there are people suffering needlessly in prison.
I am but one of many.
Signing off, Jermane Scott.
For further ‘Journal’ entries from Jermane Scott, investigative articles detailing his case, and interviews please visit here.
For any information regarding Jermane’s case please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org or via DM on twitter.