Kirk Bloodsworth, Maryland - freed from death row by DNA evidence
“I can tell you that 28 years later, I killed the thing that almost killed me. It was the most gratifying thing I’ve ever felt in my life.
No innocent man will ever be convicted and sentenced to death again. Not in my state.”
Kirk Bloodsworth, April 2013
A month ago, Maryland’s legislature passed a measure to repeal the use of the death penalty, and became the first state south of the Mason Dixon line to do so. It seems only fitting then that yesterday we released a film featuring Maryland exoneree Kirk Bloodsworth. Kirk was instrumental in securing success for the state’s repeal movement, and we’re so very honored to be able to share Kirk’s story in the first of our One for Ten films.
Kirk was the first death row inmate to be cleared with the use of DNA evidence. He spoke to us extensively about what it was like to be wrongfully convicted, what advances in the use of DNA testing meant for his case and how he felt after the Maryland repeal measure passed.
Hear Kirk's story in the film at the top of this post.
Life beyond death row
Often, people forget that the trauma of a wrongful conviction doesn’t end on the day of release. Exonerees are sent out into a world that has changed radically during their time behind bars, and they struggle with everything from finding a job to learning about the internet and smartphones.
“It was just really hard,” Kirk said in his interview with us. “I mean even going on a date for God’s sake. It’s tough. ‘Where you been?’ It’s like, ‘you’re a nice guy, where you been for the past nine years?’ ‘Oh, I was on death row….’ How do you start that conversation?”
There are only approximately 10 programs that exist nationally for helping them adjust to life on the outside, and just 23 states have any compensation laws for wrongful imprisonment on death row. Of the compensation laws that do exist, many of the processes they require are laborious and can take years. Often an exoneree is required to obtain a governor’s pardon to qualify for compensation, which can be difficult or impossible.
We drive on
Our journey across America continues. We’re headed next to Cleveland where we’ll be talking to Joe D’Ambrosio, and focusing on what life is like after being exonerated of a wrongful conviction.
We’ll ask Joe about his experience of life beyond death and more during our interview, and you can contribute. We’ll be taking questions from our fans and audience on what they would like Joe to talk about as well. To submit a question for Joe or any of our exonerees, post on our Facebook page, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet questions to us using the hashtag #oneforten.
You can also follow along on our journey on our website, where we’ll be blogging, sharing photos and videos, and posting updates on the project. We want our audience to be as involved in the process as possible, so we hope you’ll join the crowd and provide your questions, feedback and ideas. We can’t wait to share the next film with you.
See you on the road.
Megan is the Producer of the One for Ten film project, telling the stories of exonerees from America's death row. The One for Ten team have just made their first film of the project, at the start of their journey across the States.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.