Today, Damon Thibodeaux, who has been on death row in Louisiana since October 1997, was exonerated of the murder and rape of his 14-year old step-cousin, Crystal Champagne, making him the 300th person to be exonerated by DNA evidence in the United States, and the 18th to have served time on death row.
While we are grateful for the cooperation we received from District Attorney Paul Connick, Jr. in working with Damon’s legal team to prove his innocence, there is no question that Damon, like the other 299 DNA exonerees, suffered terribly because of the faults in the criminal justice system.
The 300 DNA exonerees served a combined total 4,013 years in prison. In nearly half of the cases, the true perpetrator was caught. But had the true perpetrator been correctly captured in the first place, more than 130 violent crimes could have been prevented.
Fortunately, there are simple, common sense reforms that can prevent wrongful convictions and make sure law enforcement is focused on identifying the true perpetrators of crime. We owe it to the 300 men and women who have been exonerated to pass these reforms to help make sure that our criminal justice system is as accurate as possible. Fixing the system protects everyone because it ensures that the innocent go free and the real perpetrators are locked up and unable to commit other crimes.
Everyone wins when wrongful convictions are prevented. Please join us in supporting reforms that prevent convictions of the innocent and support identification of the guilty.
On September 28, 2012, Damon Thibodeaux became the 300th person (and the 18th who served time on death row) to be exonerated by DNA evidence. Just 22 when he was arrested for murdering his cousin, Thibodeaux spent 15 years in solitary confinement in Angola before he was finally freed. Combined, the 300 DNA served more than 4000 years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit.
In some respects, they are the lucky ones. DNA evidence isn’t available in most cases, meaning that there are many more innocent people in prison with little hope of ever being freed. The DNA exonerations, however, have helped expose the flaws in the system. While it may never be perfect, there are simple reforms that could help prevent wrongful convictions in the first place. The Innocence Project is committed to working state by state to prevent these terrible miscarriages of justice, but we need your help make lawmakers address this pressing failure. Stand up for the innocent by pledging your support to help prevent wrongful convictions.
We want to thank The Innocence Project for the work that they are doing all over the country. Here is a link so you can read more about this wonderful organization.
If you would like to read another article that will stun you:
~ Data Report: More Than 2,000 False Convictions In Past 23 Years; They Allot Over 10,000 Years! ~
There is no way that over 7 million that are within the Department of Corrections are all guilty. The data states that at least 10% are innocent. So, before you judge and use the old saying “All inmates say they are innocent” think a moment, what if this were you? Wouldn’t you hope, pray and beg for someone to listen?
On another note, a celebration for New York.
Good News in New York City
The New York City Police Department, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Innocence Project have been awarded a National Institute of Justice grant totaling $1.25 million to catalogue crime scene evidence so that those seeking to prove their innocence through DNA testing can more readily get access to evidence in their cases.
The inability to locate evidence has hampered the Innocence Project’s efforts to clear people convicted in New York City for years. Most of the funds will go to the NYPD to sort through and catalogue evidence held in its storage facility, but the Innocence Project will receive funding to pay for a new staff member to expedite review of approximately 800 cases of people convicted in New York City who are seeking to prove their innocence though DNA testing.
In other good New York City news, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly announced last week that officers would be required to videotape interrogations from Miranda onward. This will help stem false confessions by creating a record that jurors can view to determine if police used coercive tactics to get defendants to falsely confess. We’re hopeful that Commissioner Kelly’s leadership on this issue will finally persuade lawmakers in Albany to pass a law requiring police agencies statewide to record interrogations. Read a New York Times editorial on this issue.