Shelby Thornhill- Blog Entry #5

“I am living proof that America’s system of capital punishment is broken beyond repair.” The chilling account of Kirk Bloodsworth, the first wrongfully imprisoned man to be released after DNA testing on evidence, shows readers how terribly broken America’s capital punishment system really is.

After being convicted for the murder of a 9 year old girl, Bloodsworth was sent to jail and given the death penalty. Many false witness testimonies and speculation led to his conviction, a conviction that would ultimately prove to be wrong. After spending six years in prison, serving a lowered sentence of back to back life sentences, Bloodsworth walked out a free man when DNA testing proved that he was not guilty of this heinous crime. 10 years later, the little girl’s real killer was identified.

While Bloodsworth was lucky enough to be cleared of a wrongful conviction, other innocent prisoners facing the death penalty are not so fortunate. Along with serving unnecessary years in jail, it was hard for Bloodsworth to reenter society after his release. To his neighbors and community members he was still the man who killed the little girl. In addition, the government also had to reward him $300,000 in compensation for missed work time. These reasons and many others seem to be why support of the death penalty is slowly declining.

It’s inevitable that people make mistakes- that’s what makes us human. But, witness misidentification is one of the leading causes of innocent people being arrested and ultimately sentenced to death for crimes they didn’t commit. As more and more states begin to abolish the death penalty, hopefully it becomes more obvious in the coming years that life sentences are enough- even for the most heinous crimes. It’s one thing to sentence a vicious criminal to death, but can you be 100% sure that this criminal is actually guilty, and not just a victim of the system himself?


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