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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.

Guest


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  • Claudio Giusti

    Tally-ho Kirk, tally-ho

  • Johnny Ola

    Thank you for airing this piece and thanks to Kirk. I heard yesterday’s interview and could not believe my ears, it was appalling. The abject cruelty Professor Blecker verbalized so casually was chilling.

  • http://www.acadp.com/ ACADP (Australia)

    Kirk is one of 144 death row prisoners who have been released in the last four decades after evidence emerged of their wrongful conviction. And … the USA boasts to have the best-of-the-best criminal justice system in the world ???

    The fact that some (144) legal errors have been discovered during the appeals process, strongly suggests there have been other cases where legal errors have not been discovered in time and wrongly convicted people have been executed.

    You don’t have to be a genius to fully comprehend the fact that the death penalty system is seriously flawed, riddled with legal errors, often corrupt, discriminative (those with the capital don’t get the punishment), a broken system beyond repair, which is rotten to the very core. If the death penalty was a product, it would be judged as shoddy, defective and unreliable. It would be recalled and removed from the shelves.

    Nobody should be misguided that all criminal convictions automatically mean actual guilt. While this might be the stated objective of every legal system, it has rarely been achieved with 100 percent certainty. The death penalty system has been proven to be a broken system. Not only is the death penalty irretrievably broken, it is inherently broken. It cannot be fixed !!!

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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