The Untouchables: America's Misbehaving Prosecutors, And The System That Protects Them

by Radley Balko
Aug. 05, 2013

Even among outrageous false conviction stories, [John Thompson's] tale is particularly brutal. He was wrongly convicted not once, but twice -- separately -- for a carjacking and a murder. He spent 18 years at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, 14 of them on death row. His death warrant was signed eight times. When his attorneys finally found the evidence that cleared him -- evidence his prosecutors had known about for years -- he was weeks away from execution.

But what most enrages Thompson -- and what drives his activism today -- is that in the end, there was no accountability. His case produced a surfeit of prosecutorial malfeasance, from incompetence, to poor training, to a culture of conviction that included both willfully ignoring evidence that could have led to his exoneration, to blatantly withholding it. Yet the only attorney ever disciplined in his case was a former prosecutor who eventually aided in Thompson's defense.

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