Louisiana death-row inmate Damon Thibodeaux exonerated with DNA evidence

A little after 4 a.m. on July 21, 1996, Damon Thibodeaux, a deckhand on a Mississippi River workboat, cracked at the end of a nine-hour interrogation and confessed to the brutal rape and murder of his 14-year-old step-cousin, Crystal Champagne.

“I didn’t know that I had done it,” Thibodeaux said at one point, according to a police transcript. “But I done it.”

Before that day was over, Thibodeaux had recanted his confession, telling his court-appointed lawyer that he told police what they wanted to hear in response to threats of death by lethal injection and his grief over the death of his cousin. Nonetheless, Thibodeaux was later convicted of both crimes and sentenced to die.

Now, after more than 15 years spending 23 hours a day in solitary confinement on death row at Louisiana’s Angola prison farm, Thibodeaux is free.

Read the rest here.

Also check the Innocence Project’s page on Damon here.

There are many more people with innocence claims and who are wrongfully convicted, also with no DNA evidence available, who need to be released and compensated for the years they had to endure as innocent people in prisons, threatened with death.

Free the Innocent!

3rd Annual Freedom March for the Wrongfully Convicted

Monday, Oct. 3rd at noon we will hold our 3rd Freedom March Rally on the steps of the City County Building in downtown Pittsburgh. If your loved one is in prison wrongfully convicted, join us to bring attention to this growing travesty!

www.freedommarchusa.org

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viGq4Zzg8Wc&feature=player_embedded

Oct 2nd 2010: Freedom March for Awareness for Wrongful Convictions

RAISING AWARENESS OF WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS AND THE NEED FOR JUSTICE  REFORM
For instance In Louisiana: Kenny Zulu Whitmore, the Angola 3…..
MARCH FOR FREEDOM OF WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS 2010On Oct. 2 2010, demonstrators are gathering in locations across America to raise awareness of wrongful convictions, spotlight the need for criminal justice reform, and support for a death penalty moratorium.

National Event Information:  http://freedommarchusa.org/

EVENTS:           

Demonstrations / events will take place at these locations:

1. Phoenix, AZ — Coordinator:  Camille Tilley – justice4courtney@mac.com

2. Los Angeles, CA – Coordinator: Gloria Killian – acwip@yahoo.com

3. Boise, ID – Coordinator: Gary Adams. Boise, ID  – garyadams@getmpi.com / gla1949@hotmail.com

4. Lansing, MI –  Coordinator: Ursula Armijo at ubarmijo@comcast.net

5. Poughkeepsie, NY – Coordinator: Patricia Borden  pmborden@gmail.com.

6. Pittsburgh, PA – Coordinator: MaryAnn Lubas — mlubas2@yahoo.com

If there is no event in your area, you can support this cause by:

1. Spreading the word about wrongful convictions and the need for criminal justice reform to your circle of friends, co-workers and acquaintances.

2. Sending an email, letter or calling your elected representatives to say that you are concerned about wrongful convictions and our justice system.

WHO:                 

Demonstrations organized by grassroots volunteers representing these organizations:

– Freedom March USA, Marching for Awareness of Wrongful Convictions – http://freedommarchusa.org/

– National Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform – http://www.reformingjustice.com/

CONTACT:       

For information on a specific event, contact the coordinator listed above.

In Texas, the following organizations and individuals support this cause and serve as an information resource on wrongful convictions and the need for criminal justice reform:

Information on Oct 2 Events & Criminal Justice Reform:

National Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform  – http://www.reformingjustice.com/

Texas chapter:

Lucy Frost justicereform@gmail.com

Americas Wrongfully Convicted – http://www.americaswrongfullyconvicted.com/

Roger McClendon
America’s Wrongfully Convicted
roger@americaswrongfullyconvicted.com

Information Resource on Criminal Justice Reform:

Dr. LeRoy Gillam, president Southeastern Christian Association (SECA)
832-228-3207

In The Interest of Justice (ITIJ)
http://www.itij.org/

Pastor Rod Carver
Supporters of Hannah Overton: www.freehannah.com

Terri Been, Kids Against The Death Penalty: http://www.freewebs.com/kadp

Kristin Houle Exec. Director
Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP): www.tcadp.org/

Jeff Blackburn or Cory Session
Innocence Project Of Texas: http://ipoftexas.org/

Lily Hughes, Campaign To End The Death Penalty: http://www.nodeathpenalty.org/content/index.php

BACKGROUND

MARCH FOR FREEDOM OF WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS 2010 aims to raise united voices for justice.

Modern science and technology have shaken the strong faith many once placed in the accuracy of judgments made by our criminal justice system.

Thanks to DNA analysis of biological evidence, hundreds have been exonerated—many after spending years on death row.

Research by Seton Hall law professor D. Michael Risinger indicates that 3.3%-5% of those convicted of crimes are factually innocent. Those who value justice demand that the criminal justice system apply the lessons to be learned from the many cases of wrongful conviction, and support policy initiatives that:

1. Raise the accuracy rate in judgments of guilt and innocence.

2. Resolve credible post-conviction claims of innocence.

3. Remedy the tragic impact of wrongful convictions.   

For those who are guilty of crimes, we support enlightened approaches to incarceration that nurture genuine rehabilitation and reintegration of productive citizens whenever possible.  

FACTS ABOUT AMERICA’S CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM:

– The United States incarcerates more people than any country in the world, including the far more populous nation of China[1].

– One in 100 Adult Americans is incarcerated in a prison or jail.

– One in 31 Adult Americans is incarcerated, on probation or parole.

– Incarceration rates heavily concentrated among men, racial and ethnic minorities, and 20-and 30-year olds.

1 in 9 Black men 20-34 years old, 1 in 15 Black men 18+, 1 in 36 Hispanic men 18+.

– Texas is one of the leading states in verified wrongful convictions.  To date, more than 38 people have been exonerated in Texas using DNA.

– Nationally, more than 133 people have been exonerated from death row since 1973[2].

– Expert estimates of wrongful convictions range from 3% to 12%, based on data from DNA & other exonerations[3].

– Executed But Possibly Innocent: Of the cases frequently cited as those executed despite strong evidence of innocence, 6 are Texas cases[4].

– How many innocent people are in prison?  No one knows, but experts agree that “any plausible guess at the total number of miscarriages of justice in America in the last fifteen years must be in the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands.”[5]

Senator Jim Webb’s page about the problem and legislation he has introduced: http://webb.senate.gov/email/criminaljusticereform.html

“America’s criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace. Its irregularities and inequities cut against the notion that we are a society founded on fundamental fairness. Our failure to address this problem has caused the nation’s prisons to burst their seams with massive overcrowding, even as our neighborhoods have become more dangerous. We are wasting billions of dollars and diminishing millions of lives.” – Senator Jim Webb

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[1] Pew Research Center – http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/uploadedFiles/8015PCTS_Prison08_FINAL_2-1-1_FORWEB.pdf

[2] http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/innocence-and-death-penalty

[3] Research by Seton Hall law professor D. Michael Risinger and other expert estimates

[4] http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/executed-possibly-innocent

[5] http://truthinjustice.org/exonerations-in-us.pdf