The New York Times today profiles Kirk Bloodsworth, a man who once faced execution for what he describes as “the most brutal murder in Maryland history.” He was innocent, and thanks to the development of DNA testing, was proven so and freed. Equally as important, the real killer was identified.
Kirk Bloodsworth was lucky. Many inmates sentenced to die in this country do not have scientific evidence like DNA with which to prove their innocence. Only 18 of the 142 death row exonorees over the last 40 years have been set free due to DNA evidence. During that time, many others have been executed despite doubts about their guilt, but without testable DNA evidence that could prove their innocence to the high standard our courts require.
As long as the death penalty exists, the risk of executing the innocent will be all too real. So Kirk Bloodsworth has made it his mission to abolish the death penalty, both in his home state and – as advocacy director for Witness to Innocence – throughout the country.