Freed by DNA


We broadcast from New Orleans, Louisiana, the heart of the world’s prison capital, where more people are behind bars any other state per capita — an incarceration rate 13 times that of China. Louisiana also ranks among the highest in the country in terms of the number of people per capita who are exonerated after serving years in prison for crimes they did not commit. We are joined by Henry James, the longest-serving prisoner to be exonerated in Louisiana. James spent 30 years in the notorious Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola prison, on a life sentence without parole for rape. At trial, the prosecution never told the jury that serology testing from the rape kit excluded James as the perpetrator. In 2011, DNA evidence found by accident proved James’ innocence, winning him his release. We also speak with Emily Maw, director of Innocence Project New Orleans, which helped win his exoneration. "Henry James’ case is unfortunately atypical. Everybody in Louisiana who is convicted of murder or rape gets sentenced to life without parole. There is no other sentence for those two crimes. What is atypical about Henry’s case is that they found the evidence," Maw says. "In Louisiana, as in many places, evidence storage and preservation practices are atrocious. People lose evidence all the time in cases where DNA testing could prove their innocence."

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