Man Released From Death Row After DNA Proves Innocence

Damon Thibodeaux is just the latest to be exonerated, but how many more have been wrongly convicted?

Damon Thibodeaux, who served 15 years on Death Row in Louisiana for the rape and murder of his 14-year old step-cousin in 1996, has been exonerated by DNA evidence reports. Thibodeaux is now the 300th innocent man released after DNA evidence proved his wrongful conviction. As reports however, these 300 men are just the tip of the iceberg.

[The men were] innocent people whose lives were destroyed by sloppy police work, eyewitness misidentification, bad forensics, false confessions, incompetent defence attorneys, biased jurors or any number of other failings in the judicial system.

But what is even more disturbing, as the report goes on to tell, is the significant number of minorities who have suffered under our flawed, and quite clearly socio- economically and racially biased judicial system.

The wrongly convicted were mostly poor, and they were mostly black. In fact, although in the vast majority of sexual assaults the perpetrator and the victim are of the same race, two-thirds of the black men exonerated through DNA evidence were wrongfully convicted of raping white people.

Thanks to the valiant efforts of the lawyers at The Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization that uses ground breaking DNA technology to prove the innocence of those who have been wrongly convicted and unjustly imprisoned, Mr. Thibodeaux and 299 other men’s lives have been returned to them. The struggle is far from over though, as these cases serve to highlight a much larger and systemic failure within the US criminal justice system.


Picture: Vectorportal/Flickr

About Kathryn DeHoyos

Kathryn DeHoyos currently resides on the outskirts of Austin, TX. She has 2 beautiful children, and is very happily un-married to her life partner DJ.


  1. Richard Aubrey says:


    The IP began with the public purpose of going after death row/murder issues. I don’t know if that was the purpose of the organization itself, but that was how it was originally perceived.
    The issue of guys, or women, wrongly convicted of crimes against women is really, really touchy.
    Remember, you have to believe women. Women never lie. Etc.
    And now….

  2. I went to the Innocence Project some time ago and did a search and ALMOST all the people who have been freed were convicted of crimes against a wom(e)n , is this a coincidence, I keep hearing how we don’t take rape and sexual assault seriously , YET almost all the people who this org has freed were wrongly convicted of a crime and supposedly we don’t take seriously. Weird part is even most of the women who have been freed were convicted of crimes against women.

    • I keep hearing how we don’t take rape and sexual assault seriously…

      That’s because to people like that “take rape/sexual assault seriously” would mean something to the effect of rape/sexual assault against women falling to zero (and yes the concern is gendered).

      If anything it seems like it might be getting taken too seriously in some cases. Taken so seriously that little things like actual evidence (as in there is not enough evidence to convict or evidence that could lead to acquittal is actively ignored) don’t matter.

  3. The Innocence Project are doing great work freeing these men and exposing huge flaws in the judicial system. This is another reason why, aside from it being barbaric, there should be no death penalty. It doesn’t bear thinking about how many innocent people have been murdered by the state for crimes they did not commit.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    If these guys were wrongly convicted, and if the crime actually happened, the actual perp is still out there, unless he’s been caught for something else, or died.
    The issue of getting the wrong guy for rape is particularly troubling. You’d think DNA would be the first thing investigators went for, except for Nifong, and, while you might not catch the right guy, at least you wouldn’t have the wrong guy.
    Withholding exculpatory evidence–which is sometimes the case–ought to cause the prosecutor to spend a goodish time in jail. More likely, he’ll become a judge.

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