Ten films to expose innocence on death row


By Laura Shacham - One for Ten, on 29 April 2013

Over the course of five weeks, our very small team (of four) will drive 4,500 miles across America, producing two films a week for immediate online release.
We are making the films in this way to make sure the project is as interactive as possible; we’re asking our audience to read about each of the exonerees we’re visiting and suggest questions as well as give us feedback on the films as they’re released. All of the films are free to watch and free to share.
The death penalty was reinstated in the US in 1976 and since then, 142 people have been found innocent, exonerated and released from death row.
When directors Will Francome and Mark Pizzey began looking at the statistics, they discovered that for every ten people executed in America, one person is proved innocent and released. “That just seemed like an unacceptable level of failure for such an irreversible punishment,” they thought.

Insights into wrongful convictions

Hence One For Ten was born. The idea behind the project was to create a series of short, easily accessible films that would allow people to get a good overarching insight into the recurring themes that lead to wrongful conviction.
Each of the ten films examines a different one of those themes – such as prosecutorial misconduct, racism, eyewitness misidentification – and tells the story of a different person who was sentenced to death as a result of one or more of those factors.
Two weeks ago we set off in our camper van to meet the people whose experiences we believe the world needs to share in.

DNA testing

So far, we’ve made four of our ten films, and had the honour of meeting Kirk Bloodsworth, Joe D’Ambrosio, Delbert Tibbs and Damon Thibodeaux. You can read more about all of the exonerees taking part in the project on our website here.
Our first stop was Philadelphia, where we met Kirk Noble Bloodsworth, America’s first DNA exoneree. Kirk was sentenced to death in 1985 for the rape and murder of a young girl in Maryland before the advent of DNA testing. A long struggle ensued to get the evidence tested and prove his innocence.
Kirk is now advocacy director at Witness to Innocence. He was instrumental in Maryland’s recent abolition of the death penalty and will speak at the World Congress Against the Death Penalty in June.

Hear Kirk’s story in his own words:

Our next stop was Cleveland, Ohio, where we met Joe D’Ambrosio who spent 22 years on Ohio’s death row. We talked to Joe about the challenges exonerees face after being released; from finding a job to renting an apartment, from finding a partner to gaining the acceptance of your neighbours.
Joe tells us more here:

From Cleveland we travelled on to Chicago, where we spent the day with Delbert Tibbs. Delbert found himself on Florida’s death row because of mistaken eyewitness identification.
His trial, in which an all-white jury convicted him of raping a white girl and murdering her travelling companion, took all of a day and a half to sentence him to death. After two years of struggle, he was finally released.
Delbert shares his story:

From Chicago, we ventured up to Minneapolis, encountering serious snow and cold along the way. There, we met Damon Thibodeaux, who has only been off death row for seven months. Damon shared his story of falsely confessing to the murder of his cousin, and gave us some shocking insight into the interrogation techniques he encountered.
He spent 15 years on death row in Angola prison, before DNA proved him innocent and he was released last year.

Damon talks us through his experience:

We are currently $6,000 short of our minimum budget. If you want to help us make sure all ten stories get told, please donate here.
All of our films are available freely online and we do hope people will share them far and wide, make use of them in the classroom, in seminars, at conferences, all over the world. We think these stories have the power to effect real change and put the death penalty under the spotlight across the globe.
Join us on our journey at www.oneforten.com.

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