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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Debating The Death Penalty, Part 2

Kirk Bloodsworth shows a picture of himself during the time of his arrest during an interview on September 26, 2012. Bloodsworth is the first American sentenced to death row who was exonerated by DNA fingerprinting, although his death sentence had already been commuted to two consecutive life sentences by the time his exoneration based upon DNA evidence was in the works. (Mladen Antonov/AFP/GettyImages)

Kirk Bloodsworth shows a picture of himself during the time of his arrest during an interview on September 26, 2012. Bloodsworth is the first American sentenced to death row who was exonerated by DNA fingerprinting, although his death sentence had already been commuted to two consecutive life sentences by the time his exoneration based upon DNA evidence was in the works. (Mladen Antonov/AFP/GettyImages)

On yesterday’s program, we spoke to New York Law School professor Robert Blecker. He teaches criminal law and supports the death penalty for people convicted of horrible crimes — sadistic killers, people who murder and rape children, mass murderers and terrorists.

“We can get it wrong, and we have many times.”

Blecker believes that capital punishment should be used even though there is a risk that an innocent person might be executed. Today, we’re hearing from one of those people: Kirk Bloodsworth was convicted of the 1984 murder and sexual assault of a 9-year-old girl in Maryland. He was sentenced to death and spent nearly nine years in prison until he was exonerated and freed in 1993.

Bloodsworth was the first person in the U.S. exonerated from death row as a result of post-conviction DNA evidence. Bloodsworth had no opinion about the death penalty before this experience, but now he is an outspoken opponent of capital punishment and represents Witness To Innocence, an organization of exonerated death row inmates.

“You know, honestly, sitting there all those years, eight years, 10 months and 19 days, I have to tell you we can get it wrong, and we have many times,” Bloodsworth tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson.

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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