Death row exoneree Kirk Bloodsworth joined Kentucky legislators Wednesday in calling for the abolition of capital punishment in Kentucky.

Bloodsworth, the first person in the nation exonerated from death row through post-conviction DNA testing, served more than eight years following his conviction in Maryland for the sexual assault and murder of a 9-year-old girl. Two of those years were on death row.

His exoneration followed DNA testing on evidence collected at the crime scene that incontrovertibly established his innocence.

“Two juries were wrong,” Bloodsworth said at a news conference. “Two judges were wrong. The state of Maryland was wrong. …I am not here because the system worked. I am here because a series of miracles happened.”

Bloodsworth is a member of a nonprofit organization of death row exonerees that educate the public about innocence and wrongful convictions. More information about his experience can be found at: http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/Kirk_Bloodsworth.php.

Joining Bloodsworth on Wednesday were state Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, and state Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown, who have filed bills in their respective chambers (Senate Bill 15 and House Bill 82) to abolish the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment without parole for inmates currently sentenced to death and allow life without parole for offenses now classified as capital offenses.

“If you support the death penalty, come and shake hands with this man, who was wrongly convicted,” Floyd said. “We have a system that condemns to death the innocent as well as the guilty. Reasonable people will cry for change.”

The legislators also addressed resolutions they have filed (Senate Concurrent Resolution 11 and House Concurrent Resolution 32) to establish a task force to study the costs of administering the death penalty in Kentucky.

“It is my obligation – as it is for others – to properly manage the taxpayers’ money, and we would not be fulfilling our responsibility as good stewards were we not to ascertain the costs associated with the death penalty and the impact it has on the state’s revenue,” Neal said.

Bloodsworth’s week-long tour in Kentucky is sponsored by Witness to Innocence, the ACLU of Kentucky, and the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

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