Death Row Exoneree Kirk Bloodsworth presents award to Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy


Yesterday, July 11


, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont was honored by the

Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project

for his work on behalf of the wrongfully convicted. The award was presented by Kirk Bloodsworth, the first person in the country who spent time on death row to be exonerated through DNA testing.


“Sen. Leahy is indeed a champion of justice,” Bloodsworth said in a statement to the

Burlington Free Press

. “His entire life has been to right injustice, which I know full well. It has been an honor as the advocacy director for Witness to Innocence and the first death row inmate exonerated by DNA to know the senator and call him friend.”


In 2004, Senator Leahy helped pass the Innocence Protection Act, which includes the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Grant Program.  The initiative has helped achieve DNA testing for wrongfully convicted individuals such as Thomas Haynesworth, a Virginia man who was exonerated after spending 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.


Haynesworth, along with several other exonerees who benefited from funding initiatives, also attended the luncheon to honor Senator Leahy.


Congress is currently debating the future of federal innocence initiatives. Senator Leahy, the Senate Judiciary Chair, has introduced legislation to reauthorize the “Justice for All Act,” which will soon move forward in committee.


Federal funding for innocence initiatives also face a crucial vote next week in the Senate Appropriations Committee.


Read the

full article


For more about the Innocence Protection Act.


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