Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA

Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA

by Tim Junkin
     
 


Charged with the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl in 1984, Kirk Bloodsworth was tried, convicted, and sentenced to die in Maryland's gas chamber. Maintaining his innocence, he read everything on criminal law available in the prison library and persuaded a new lawyer to petition for the then-innovative DNA testing. After nine years in one of the harshest… See more details below

Overview


Charged with the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl in 1984, Kirk Bloodsworth was tried, convicted, and sentenced to die in Maryland's gas chamber. Maintaining his innocence, he read everything on criminal law available in the prison library and persuaded a new lawyer to petition for the then-innovative DNA testing. After nine years in one of the harshest prisons in America, Kirk Bloodsworth became the first death row inmate exonerated by DNA evidence. He was pardoned by the governor of Maryland and has gone on to become a tireless spokesman against capital punishment. Bloodsworth's story speaks for 159 others who were wrongly convicted and have since been released, and for the thousands still in prison waiting for DNA testing.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
"Kirk Bloodsworth is an American Josef K., an icon of a system that failed him—and justice—at every turn."
Washington Post Book World
Douglas E. Winter
Kirk Bloodsworth's story brings much-needed clarity to the debate. Although Americans may differ on the legality and morality of the death penalty, we can't accept a criminal justice system that makes Franz Kafka's visions real.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Attorney and novelist Junkin (The Waterman) makes his nonfiction debut with the little-known story of Kirk Noble Bloodsworth, who in 1984 was falsely accused of the brutal sex murder of a nine-year-old girl in Maryland. The local authorities narrowed in quickly on Bloodsworth based on questionable eyewitness identifications, while neglecting a slew of clearly worthwhile leads. Bloodsworth was convicted and sentenced to death, before an appellate court found that the state had failed to disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense concerning the suspicious figure who had helped direct police to the child's corpse. Yet the retrial again ended with a guilty verdict, although the judge's reservations about the circumstantial evidence led him to impose two life sentences. As Junkin tells it, Bloodsworth's inner strength and determination enabled him to survive in prison and to learn of advances in DNA fingerprinting that led to his 1993 exoneration and Maryland's belated identification of the killer. While this book isn't as gripping as Randall Dale Adams's account of his escape from death row or the writings of lawyer Barry Scheck, Bloodsworth, who became an advocate for abolishing the death penalty, deserves to be better known, and the battery of mistakes that led to his lethal jeopardy should disturb any fair-minded reader on either side of the capital punishment debate. (Sept. 10) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
DNA testing has become such an important part of the criminal justice system that it is difficult to imagine a time when it was unknown. Yet that was the case in 1984 when Kirk Bloodsworth was convicted of the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl in Maryland. Sentenced to die, he insisted on his innocence but could not prove it until he read Joseph Wambaugh's Blooding, which described the innovative use in England of DNA testing. He urged his lawyer to try it in his defense and, after a long struggle, won his case, becoming the first person in the United States to be exonerated by the procedure. This book by lawyer-novelist Junkin (The Waterman) is Bloodsworth's story of his fight for freedom. Along the way, Junkin is highly critical of the justice system, which he calls theater. Had it not been for Bloodsworth's determination, he would never have been exonerated; no one helped him but his lawyer. This book provides a harrowing "fly on the wall" look at an inmate struggling to survive on death row. Highly recommended for crime collections.[See also "A Waterman's Journey," LJ 6/1/04.-Ed.]-Frances Sandiford, formerly with Green Haven Correctional Facility Lib., Stormville, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565124196
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
10/09/2004
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.56(w) x 8.74(h) x 1.06(d)

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