Centenary College Home Centenary News

News Service

2911 Centenary

Post Office
Box 4188


318 869-5120

318 841-7266


Contact: Heather Hall, 504-522-3949, ext. 223; Dr. Rodney Grunes, Centenary Professor of Political Science, 318-869-5180; or Lynn Stewart, Centenary News Service, 318-869-5120

"DNA and Death Penalty Exoneration: A Discussion with Kirk Bloodsworth and Tim Junkin" Public Program Set for Feb. 28 in South Dining Hall, Centenary College

SHREVEPORT, LA — "DNA and Death Penalty Exoneration: A Discussion with Kirk Bloodsworth and Tim Junkin" will be presented Monday, Feb. 28 at Centenary College. The program will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Centenary's South Dining Hall, which is located in Bynum Commons.

Free and open to the public, it is sponsored by Centenary's Pre-Law Society and Pi Sigma Alpha, political science honor society.

It features Bloodsworth, who was exonerated from Maryland's death row in 1993 after serving eight years when DNA evidence proved his innocence and identified the true perpetrator, and Junkin, who authored the recently published book Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA.

Together, they will retell Bloodsworth's harrowing experience and tell the story of a battery of mistakes that led to his conviction, making a convincing case to end the death penalty.

The Bloodsworth case speaks to several important criminal justice issues in America and Louisiana. Some of the topics students will consider are:

— Since 1973, 118 people have been exonerated from death row. Factors such as income, race and geography are critical factors in determining whether a person received the death penalty—not the crime.

—In the last decade, more people have been exonerated from Louisiana's death row than executed. Seven innocent men have served a combined total of 74 years on death row for crimes they did not commit before properly funded lawyers proved their innocence.

—The United States is the only country in the world that publicly supports the execution of juveniles. Last August in Jefferson Parish, Ryan Matthews was exonerated for a crime he didn't commit when he was 17 years old.

—Experts charge that Louisiana's indigent defense system is among the worst in the nation, regularly failing to provide quality representation to poor people. Chronic underfunding, crushing caseloads and dramatic disparities between the Public Defender's Office and law enforcement resources mean that many people languish in Louisiana prisons, sometimes waiting months only to meet with their appointed lawyer five minutes before their trial. It is fundamentally unfair to send poor people to trial without a lawyer who provides adequate counsel.

—The state has consistently failed to provide a fair, truth-seeking criminal justice system. Louisiana spends over half a billion dollars each year to incarcerate more people per capita than any other state or country in the world. Yet, the crime rate continues to be among the highest in the nation.

After Bloodsworth's and Junkin's presentation, there will be time for questions and answers.

The event is also sponsored by the ACLU Foundation of Louisiana, Amnesty International Chapter No. 143, Innocence Project New Orleans, Louisiana Justice Coalition, Loyola National Lawyers Guild, Loyola Public Interest Law Group, and Loyola University Ministry and Swine Palace (LSU's affiliated professional theatre).

For more info, contact Heather Hall at 504-522-3949, ext. 223, or Dr. Rodney Grunes, professor of political science, at 318-869-5180.

- 30 -