Nonummy Sed Consequat
300th inmate freed by DNA plans new life in Minnesota
Star Tribune newspaper
Louisiana death-row inmate Damon Thibodeaux exonerated with DNA evidence
Washington Post newspaper
Angola death row inmate who gave false confession released after 15 years
Man on death for 15 years exonerated due to DNA
“Like hundreds of other DNA exonerees, there is no question that Mr. Thibodeaux suffered terribly because of faults in the criminal justice system.”
The Innocence Project
Update: Graduation day
Damon passed the General Education Development Test and received his Certificate of High School Equivalency in a ceremony held January 22 at Jefferson Community School, Minneapolis.
On a warm, overcast Friday in September 2012, Damon Thibodeaux walked out of Death Row at Louisiana’s Angola Prison a free man. He had the clothes on his back, a small bag of personal items in his hand, and a smile of unmitigated joy on his face.
Since 1997, Damon had been on Death Row for a crime he did not commit. For 23 hours a day, he was confined to a small, cramped cell. One hour a day, he was let out to shower, exercise, or move up and down the halls under guard.
Damon, now 38, was the 300th person nationwide and the 18th on Death Row to be exonerated by DNA evidence. Lawyers from The Innocence Project, the Minnesota law firm of Fredrikson & Byron, the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana, the Capital Appeals Project of Louisiana and the ALCU had worked on Damon’s case for more than a decade. On Sept. 27, 2012, the court, with the agreement of the District Attorney's Office vacated Damon’s conviction and ordered his release.
Damon arrived in Minnesota on Oct. 4, drawn by offers of help from his attorneys at Fredrikson & Byron and also the services provided by Project for Pride in Living (PPL), a non profit in the Twin Cities.
Watch the KARE-11 TV story about Damon's new start in Minneapolis:
Attorney Steven Kaplan, who worked on the case since 2001, is a strong supporter of Damon.
“Damon is starting from scratch in Minnesota, rebuilding his life," Kaplan said. "He has a part-time job, a small apartment through PPL and is planning to work on his GED. There is a lot that he needs, and we want to tell his story to encourage people to help him rebuild his life. He’s a remarkable young man."
To date, Damon has received no compensation from the State of Louisiana. And Kaplan says, if compensation does come, it is likely to take a substantial amount of time.
Damon shows no anger about those years of false imprisonment. “Being angry would be a waste of time because... I can’t get the 16 years back,” he told the Star Tribune. “I have to keep focused on where I want to go and hope I can figure out along the way what I want to do. I can’t think about what could have been, but will be."
The prison where Damon was held, Louisiana State Prison at Angola, is the largest maximum security prison in the United States. An 18,000-acre complex that still resembles the slave plantation it once was, the notorious prison, immortalized in the film Dead Man Walking, was in the past considered one of the most brutal in America.
How to help Damon
Any amount you can give will be welcomed — $5, $10, ... whatever you can contribute.
There are two ways to make a gift:
1) By check: Please make your check payable to "Damon A. Thibodeaux" and mail it to:
c/o Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.
200 South Sixth Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402-1425
2) Online: (Payment will be processed through a secure server by WePay.com.)
Amounts contributed will go toward helping Damon with everyday expenses as he starts his new life in Minnesota.
We'd just like to note that contributions will go directly to Damon, but they are not tax deductible.
Hear more of Damon’s story
Damon Thibodeaux and Steve Kaplan are available to speak to your group for a small honorarium that will go entirely toward Damon's living expenses. Read more...
Spread the word
You can also help Damon by spreading the word about his story to as many people as possible.
If you have a Website, please add a link to this site; if you have a Twitter account, please Tweet about Damon with a link to this site; if you're on Facebook, please share a link to this site.