As promised, we’re taking your questions for each of our exonerees along the trip, and the answers will be able to be viewed in the online archive, which will contain the interviews in their entirety. However, we thought you might like to see the answers sooner than that, so we’re publishing them here on our blog after each one.
Submit your questions for each of our exonerees on our Facebook, via Twitter by using the hashtag #oneforten or by emailing them to info@oneforten. Next up is Joe D’Ambrosio, so get your questions in for him before Wednesday.
Here’s what Kirk had to say in response to the questions you submitted:
From Abe Bonowtitz: What was your job in the Marines and how does that inform your work today when talking to people concerned about law enforcement?
Well I was an MP for 2.5 years when I was in Spain, I was a military police officer over there. The death penalty does not save police officers, does not save correctional officers, it does not save or help civilians or any sort of thing. If it doesn’t protect anyone, it doesn’t protect anyone. So I’d say, I’m all for people being punished for what they did but we can’t select people. When someone picks up that badge and puts that gun on, and they walk out that door to protect and serve society, everyone has a chance of getting killed. We all do, every time we walk out our house every day. We all take that risk and you can’t elevate one victim over another. I think it’s a practical matter that if it doesn’t work for everyone, it doesn’t work for anyone.
From Syrup Dumontel: Did you turn to God at all in terms of your time on death row?
I have a faith, you know in God and I had to grab a hold of my own sanity and anchor myself in some kind of way. I worked out like a maniac but I read all the time. I was constantly in books and I was constantly reading the law that pertained to my case and you know, my endeavor to grab my freedom. I had to prove the truth you know. The truth will set you free. I mean I read the Bible 7 times. I communed with God. I had a realisation that I was to endure whatever was coming and there was no way out of it and I had to get through to the other side.
From Lisa Welsh Robbins/Annette Schiffman: How have you stated positive? How do you not feel anger at the years lost? How do you forgive the injustice and enjoy life?
Well I was certainly angry at the beginning and you can’t get back what you lost. It’s impossible to get back 8, 10, 20 years that you’ve lost, but you try from the day you do have your freedom, you try and have some fun. I am not bitter about this anymore, but I chastise those that don’t want to listen about innocence. It’s a necessity for me.
I’m still a human being. I love to fish, I love to eat, just live my life and this is exactly what I intend to do with it. How I sustain myself is through God and by God’s grace, I sit here.
From Phillip Mue: How did it feel not being able to prove your innocence and knowing that you hadn’t committed the crime?
It’s like you’re in a soundproof room and everyone else is on the outside and you’re on the inside and you’re screaming and you’re beating on the window and you’re trying to tell them and they’re walking you like you’re not even there. It’s the hardest thing in the world. It’s maybe like someone who’s mute and can’t speak or hear and tries to communicate to people. They didn’t want to hear a damn word I said and it’s godawful. The most aggravating thing that I’ve ever had to deal with.
I kept telling people that I was innocent and it was very frustrating. I used to write all of my letters and from the time I was arrested till the time I was released, I’d tell anybody and everyone that I was an innocent person. I would sign all of my correspondence from jail, “respectfully submitted, Kirk Noble Bloodsworth, A.I.M – An innocent man.” And it’s very frustrating. I used to write to prosecutors at Christmas and judges and people and everybody to try and do it, and I’d get no response and if I did, it was negative. ‘We can’t help you, we regret to inform you.’ These kind of things. It was very frustrating for me.
From Trish Ashby : What happens to the prosecutors when it’s proved that they acted wrongly and what do you think should happen?
They should be disbarred, if they deliberately manipulate a process. We have a member, John Thompson, who’ll you’ll speak to in this process for the film. Prosecutors can’t withhold evidence about another suspect, they can’t make up evidence. They can’t do it just because they want to win. And when they do that, it’s not right, that’s not how the system works.
When prosecutors deliberately have misconduct…they should be severely penalized and I think have their license taken away. If a doctor left a set of forceps in your abdomen during a procedure, you’d have every chance in the world to prosecute him for malpractice and so should prosecutors. You should be able to nail them like they tried to nail you.
From Callum Star: Have you ever contacted the real killer? If not what would you say?
I did have contact with the real killer in prison. I was the librarian so he got library books and we all lifted weights out in the yard. We didn’t converse like personally. He was just somebody, I call it acquaintances, you don’t have friends in prison, you have acquaintances. He was an acquaintance and that was it. I doubt very seriously that I would have anything to say to this man. I told him not to take his life. I forgave him for what he done to me. He’s gonna have to ask God to forgive him for what he did to Dawn though. I can’t forgive him for that. That’s not my place. He has to live with what he’s done. It’s called accountability.
From Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren: I would be interested to hear how his emotions on gaining his own freedom compared to how he felt when the Maryland repeal decision finally came through.
How did it feel when I first got release and the Maryland appeal, the death penalty being abolished in Maryland? I can tell you that 28 years later, I killed the thing that almost killed me. It was the most gratifying thing I’ve ever felt in my life. I was so happy, I got instantly tired. You know how when you take this long journey and you take this last step, like a pilgrimage so to speak. I was so happy and with so many friends. There’s a picture of me with my hands up and the lady right next to me was Vicki Schieber. She lost her daughter to a brutal murder and Shujaa Graham and he’s not in the photograph but he was on the other end. He’s a board member here at WTI and we shared that together. And Shujaa came out there with me and we just really really rocked them up that last year, this last year. I’m nothing but pleased, I tell you, it was a monumental moment.
We’re waiting for the gov’s signature which should be happening in May. When he signs that bill, it’s gonna be… it’s pretty euphoric, it makes me feel like a kid at Christmas almost. Nobody in the state of Maryland will have to go to death row again, let alone an innocent man. No innocent man will ever be convicted and sentenced to death again. Not in my state.