Jansing and Co | February 07, 2013
>> maryland could be just weeks away from abolishing the death penalty . several state lawmakers are expressing optimism they can repeal capital punishment . they have a hearing scheduled for february 14th . one advocate is kirk noble bloodsworth, the first person whose capital conviction was ever overturned because of dna. convicted of murder, he spent nearly nine years in prison, including two on death row before being exonerated in 1993 . good morning and thanks for being with us.
>> good morning, chris.
>> your story is unbelievable. you were accused of murdering a 9-year-old girl in 1984 . tell us briefly how did you get convicted?
>> well, it was all based on witness identification. a person that was described as being 6'5", curly blond hair , bushy mustache, tan skin, and skinny. chris, in 1984 my hair was as red as an apple. i had side burns down to here. i had a missing tooth in the front and i don't tan, i burn. and i wheighed over 200 and some points at that time. after the dna tests were done and becoming the first dna exonree we found out the real killer was not 6'5", but 5'6" and 160 pounds.
>> eyewitness accounts are notoriously suspect. you're currently the advocacy director who is pushing to end capital punishment . since 1976 maryland has executed five people. the last in 2005 . but there are five men on death row right now.
>> how tough is this fight? how successful might you be in overturning the death penalty .
>> i think we're very successful. i think people are finding out the death penalty does not work and whether it's maryland or any of these other places that have abandoned the practice. i think maryland stands, you know, to really -- the one good thing about maryland is we have an appropriation within the bill that the savings from the death penalty would go to the victims' crime fund. it's one of the only packages that's ever been put together like this. it would really help people. we've also found as i was on the commission and governor martin o'malley appointed me as one of the commissioners on this study commission on capital punishment , we voted 13-9 to abolish it and found that racial disparities and the fact of executing an innocent person could be a very valid issue. and the only way to be sure is not to have the death penalty at all.
>> i learned about you through this fascinating article in "the new york times," and among other things they wrote this, even after his release, mr. bloodsworth could never quite escape the false charge that is had threatened him with execution. he tried to return, he said, to a normal life , but he was haunted by what he had learned about the justice system . what did you learn and how is it applicable to moving forward?
>> well, the justice system , you mentioned it earlier, 78% of all wrongful convictions are because of witness identification problems. there's 27% of wrongful convictions are because of false confessions . this and many other things, the way the death penalty is applied in america, it's racially despairing. black get more the death penalty . white on black crime, they don't get the death penalty . we cannot support as a group, the witness to innocence, support a death penalty that is racially biased. we cannot support a death penalty that has all these problems with it, and, you know, i found out a long time ago if it could happen to me, it could happen to anybody in the country.
>> kirk noble bloodsworth, thank you very much.
>> you're welcome. but don't worry,