Saturday, September 29, 2012

300th Prisoner Exonerated by DNA Analysis - 18 from Death Row

The Los Angeles Times reports

A Louisiana man was released from death row on Friday after serving 15 years for a crime that DNA evidence shows he did not commit.

Damon Thibodeaux, 38, was the 300th prisoner nationwide to see his conviction overturned based on DNA evidence, according to lawyers who represented him from the New York-based Innocence Project. He was the 18th death row prisoner freed based on such evidence.

“This journey to freedom was a long time coming,” said one of his attorneys, Caroline Tillman of the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana, in a statement Friday. “The solitary conditions that Mr. Thibodeaux was forced to live under as a death row inmate were almost more than he could bear at times, but he never gave up hope that one day he would be free.”
The first and real reason we need to abolish the death penalty is because it's wrong. It's state-sanctioned per-meditated murder.  It can never be justified.

After that we have all these poor suckers who were wrongly convicted.  Thirdly, the cost is much higher than sentencing them to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

What do you think?  Please leave a comment.


  1. Studies have also found that threat of a death penalty doesn't reduce the instances of that crime, even in the weeks after an execution.

    So, if the death penalty is more expensive, doesn't dissuade crime, has been proven to have been wrongly applied based on DNA evidence, and is seen by the rest of the civilized world as brutal and backward, why keep it? The only purpose it serves is a barbaric sense of vengeance.

    1. You can call vengence barbaric if you want, but the truth is that it's human. Evil acts cry out for being righted.

      I agree that we need to do better in providing an effective defense to the accused. With DNA technology now, we have a better way to determine guilt or innocence in many cases. But when the evidence is clear and the crime is heinous--such as murder, rape, or child molestation--the death penalty is appropriate. We may end up deciding that determining guilt is just too hard to do for that punishment, but that doesn't make the sentence wrong. It just means that we don't feel up to its standard.

    2. Greg, That eye-for-an-eye bullshit from the Old Testament is as wrong as the order to kill homosexuals.

    3. 1. Vengence is hardly the exclusive notion of the ancient Hebrews.

      2. If you looked into the matter, you'd find that an eye for an eye wasn't literal. It meant that if you destroyed another person's eye, you'd have to pay money to equal the value of that eye.

      3. Did you see me quote from the Bible?

  2. I think the death penalty is appropriate when criminals have committed particularly heinous acts and the evidence is incontrovertible.

    How can delivering the death penalty possibly be more expensive than housing a prisoner for 40 or 50 years? I have heard numbers anywhere from $50,000 per year to $200,000 per year to house a a prisoner. Even going with the low number of $50,000 per year that adds up to 2 million dollars over 40 years. There is no way that promptly delivering the death penalty costs more than 2 million dollars.

    I see two compelling reasons to deliver the death penalty (when the evidence is incontrovertible like I said earlier). The first reason is justice in cases where the criminal's actions were over-the-top horrendous. The second reason is financial. It does not serve society well to provide $50,000 to $200,000 per year to house the worst of the criminals when we could use that money to assist impoverished children. Do you really want to tell an impoverished child, "Sorry, no food for you today because we are instead feeding a prisoner that raped, tortured, and slowly and painfully killed two young girls and three women."

    1. I should start by stating that I am NOT opposed to the death penalty on principal (meaning that I do not believe the State is not committing murder when it executes a truly guilty inmate).


      Many states are unable to execute condemned prisoners, due to obscenely long and financially exhaustive appeals. A large portion of those executed nationwide are those inmates who truly wanted to die, and had to sue the state, and force their execution. Due to appeals (guaranteed by a constitutional right to "due process") the court costs related to capital punishment far out-way life without parole, and it takes almost as long to produce death. The few inmates who are eventually executed sit on death row before politically correct methods (injection) are used to end their life.

      In addition to this many of the condemned are afflicted with APD (antisocial personality disorder) commonly referred to as psychopathy or sociopathy. Based on numerous profiles of individuals with APD, the worst punishment possible (from their perspective) is the infliction of boredom. A death sentence entitles them to a elevated appeals process that may provide an island of stimulus in the monotony of prison life.

      The only practical reason for the continued use of Capital Punishment, is the mandatory donation of organs, to qualified recipients. If such a system existed, then capital punishment may provide some reason for the unnecessary expenditures.

      Also, one State (Maryland) requires DNA evidence for all new capital cases. If such a system where adopted nationwide, (that is an emulation of the Maryland system) there would be a far stronger argument for Capital Punishment (disregarding the fact that they have 3 of 5 total death row inmates who have sat in their cells since 1981). Also, considering the abolition of capital punishment in Britain, it is possible that once a State inevitably executes an innocent person, public opinion will turn against the practice as a whole.

    2. E.N., according to you, we're just property of the state. Why doesn't the government decide who's more valuable and then force the lesser person to donate organs--even if it means terminating said person? That's your system.

  3. I am in rare agreement with you, Mike, though I must correct your headline. The article you linked says he is the 18th death row inmate exonerated (300th overall, including those not on death row).

  4. Holy crap! I am in agreement with Mikeb.
    Without witnesses and/or DNA is it possible to find someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?
    orlin sellers