[Watch] Falsely-Convicted Former Death Row Inmate Questions Clinton on Death Penalty

Ricky Jackson spent 39 years awaiting lethal injection for a crime he didn't commit.

Ricky Jackson spent 39 years on death row for a crime he didn't commit — the longest false sentence in history — so it's understandable that he has some questions for the presidential candidates about their stance on the death penalty. Jackson, who was exonerated in 2014, was able to question Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton about her support of the controversial practice at last night's CNN Town Hall, and you can tell from his demeanor that his time behind bars still haunts him. 

Jackson began his question, and was quickly overcome with emotion. He took a minute to regained his composure before speaking. "I spent some of those years on death row. I came perilously close to my own execution," he said. "In light of what I've just shared with you and in light of the fact that there are undocumented cases of innocent people who have been executed in our country, I would like to know how can you still take your stance on the death penalty."

It's a very tough question, and Clinton actually gave a reasonable answer. She said she came out against the death penalty in the vast majority of cases, but believes the federal government needs to reserve the right to execute in some rare instances. "The states have proven themselves incapable of carrying out fair trials that give any defendant all the rights that defendants should have," she said, adding, "I would breath a sigh of relief if either the Supreme Court or the states themselves eliminate the death penalty."
Clinton then said that while she supports the elimination of the death penalty at the state level, she feels it is sometimes appropriate in the cases at the federal level that deal with terrorist acts and mass murderers, citing such crimes as the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks. 

Race relations and the prison industrial complex have been huge topics for Clinton's campaign in recent weeks. Watch BET News break down how America's history of slavery still impacts politics and the Black vote:


(Photo: Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

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