FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (2/05)
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
For more info, contact Heather Hall at 504-522-3949, ext. 223, or Dr.
Rodney Grunes, professor of political science, at 318-869-5180.
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