Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future Popping the progressive bubble MORE appeared deeply uncomfortable when confronted on her support for the death penalty by a man wrongfully imprisoned for 39 years.
In a powerful moment at Sunday night's Democratic presidential town hall in Ohio, the former secretary of State fielded a question from Ricky Jackson, who was exonerated in 2014 after spending most of his life in prison — including time on death row — for a murder he didn't commit.
Clinton grimaced as Jackson recounted his painful story and closed by asking her, "How can you still take your stance on the death penalty in light of what you know right now?"
The Democratic front-runner gave a halting answer, clearly still grappling with her heavily qualified position on the death penalty. Clinton says she still supports the death penalty but only for extreme terrorism cases that end up under federal jurisdiction. Clinton's rival, Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Bernie Sanders' ex-spokesperson apprehensive over effectiveness of SALT deductions MORE, opposes the death penalty in all circumstances.
"This is such a profoundly difficult question," Clinton told the audience at the town hall, televised by CNN.
"I have said I would breathe a sigh of relief if either the Supreme Court or the states themselves began to eliminate the death penalty."
"Where I end up is this," she said. "And maybe it's a distinction that is hard to support. ... The kind of crimes I'm thinking of are the bombing in Oklahoma City ... the plotters and the people who carried out the attacks on 9/11.
"But a very limited use of it in cases where there has been horrific mass killings. That's really the exception that I still am struggling with. And that would only be in the federal system.
"But what happened to you," she told Jackson, "is a travesty."