Free screening of documentary on La. death row exoneree in Lafay - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Free screening of documentary on La. death row exoneree in Lafayette

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A new feature-length documentary following three people caught up in the death penalty system will be shown in front of a Lafayette audience next week. The screening of The Penalty is sponsored by Equal Justice USA (EJUSA) and The Promise of Justice Initiative, and Cinema on the Bayou.

The Penalty features Louisiana's Damon Thibodeaux, who was wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death. He spent 15 years awaiting execution, mostly in solitary confinement, before his exoneration in 2012.

"This film shines a much-needed light on the immense human cost our criminal justice system and of the death penalty in particular," said Shari Silberstein, Executive Director of EJUSA. "Innocent people sent to death row, botched executions, and murder victims' families divided - these are but a few of the unthinkable consequences of a broken system."

Caroline Tillman, a staff attorney for Capital Appeals Project, was one of the lawyers who represented Thibodeaux in his fight for freedom. "Damon's story is indicative of Louisiana's broken death penalty system," Tillman said. "His conviction was obtained through the use of a coerced confession and mistaken eyewitness identification. The system is fallible, and ours is more fallible than most. He is the 9th person to have been exonerated from our death row."

There will be a Q&A session after the screening with the film's director Will Francome, along with Michael Cahoon of the Promise of Justice Initiative and Rebecca Hudsmith from the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Middle and Western Districts of Louisiana.

The free screening will take place Tuesday, March 13th 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM at the Lafayette Public Library, South Regional Library, located at 6101 Johnston Street in Lafayette. Those interested can visit www.thepenaltyfilm.com/screenings to reserve tickets.

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