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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Connector of the day: John Thompson

October 16th, 2009
02:58 PM ET

In 1985 father-of-two John Thompson was convicted of murder in the U.S. city of New Orleans and sentenced to death.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/16/john.thompson.art.jpg caption ="John Thompson spent 18 years on death row."]

After 18 years in prison, and just weeks before his scheduled execution, he was exonerated at a retrial after new evidence came to light.

He always maintained his innocence and was eventually awarded $14 million after a civil case.

In 2007 John founded Resurrection After Exoneration (RAE) to promote and sustain a network of support among wrongfully incarcerated individuals.

According to their Web site, RAE works to reconnect exonerees to their communities and provide access to those opportunities of which they were robbed.

He talks to Connect the World about losing nearly 20 years of his life, life on death row, and the deep flaws in the legal system.

Send us your comments, questions for John and we’ll do our best to use them on Monday’s show.

soundoff (205 Responses)
  1. vincent


    during your time of wrongful incarceration, what was your question to God when you seek Him?

    October 16, 2009 at 5:28 pm | Reply
  2. James W. Hawkins

    Do you think that modern scientific evidence should be the most important factor in determining guilt or innocence?

    Woody in Egypt

    October 16, 2009 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  3. Barry

    Now that you have been exonerated how do you feel about the judicial system in America? Your life has been taken away from you and now you are finally free, found innocent after so many years, but what do you feel about all that has happened to you?

    October 17, 2009 at 4:00 am | Reply
  4. Ilan

    As a psychologist, I am wondering how did you maintain hope that you will be set free some day? What did it feel like to be vindicated?

    October 17, 2009 at 4:30 am | Reply
  5. ghost geezer

    I am so sorry. It is wonderful and sadly unusual that you
    are now a millionaire, but nobody in his right mind would really
    consider 20 years in prison under a death sentence a condition
    for which there would ever be adequate compensation.

    All of us who are citizens share responsibility for what happened
    to you. Your case is as much a reason for abolition of the death
    penalty as any, and all citizens have to understand that one of
    the issues at stake is their complicity in any miscarriage of justice
    that results in the execution of an innocent person.

    I have a feeling that you are going to have a very good life
    from now on, although it would be nicer if the world weren't falling

    Very best wishes.

    October 17, 2009 at 5:23 am | Reply
  6. john singer

    Given that many wrongfully convicted people have been sentenced to death and then exonerated by new evidence dna or otherwise the questioned begs

    How many more innocent people must die before America abolishes the death penalty?

    IF one wrognfully convicted innocent dies then the judicial system mocks the entire concept of justice!

    October 17, 2009 at 6:07 am | Reply
  7. Matius

    John, must have been very stressful knowing you were in fact innocent but no one believed you.

    How did you cope with the extreme anxiety from emotions like this?

    October 17, 2009 at 6:11 am | Reply
  8. Just-us

    it is probably thousands of others which are incarcerated in such states that tend to be biased, or let me use the "R" word.. Racist towards afro-americans.. even when he was lucky enough to be exonerated, and i'm sure many were not, i'm sure if he had a choice he wouldn't have gave all those years of his life for $14 million..

    October 17, 2009 at 6:13 am | Reply
  9. Think Universal


    Why do you assume that John sought God? And which religion are you assuming?

    October 17, 2009 at 7:26 am | Reply
  10. Sarah

    Do you have a plan for your reintegration into society? I cannot imagine the difficulty that one would face having 18 years of "progress", technology, financial affairs, relationships ect. to catch up on. I would think that moving away from a structured setting into mainstream society, and having control of your own choices, as well as financial responsibilities, would be a welcome but daunting prospect.

    October 17, 2009 at 7:43 am | Reply
  11. carlos

    Mr Thompson,

    How do you feel about those who put you in jail?

    October 17, 2009 at 7:46 am | Reply
  12. James

    Are you planning to take any legal action against this wrongful imprisonment?

    October 17, 2009 at 8:33 am | Reply
  13. Stephen


    Is the biggest problem the justice system or is it with the death penalty? I would imagine that if someone was sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole for a crime they didn't commit, it would be almost as bad as being given the death penalty for a crime they didn't commit.

    In a separate question, do you believe some people deserve the death penalty or has this experience made you believe it is always wrong?

    October 17, 2009 at 8:39 am | Reply
  14. Well Concerned


    What a stupid question and stupid assumption – as any sensible person would know there is, in fact, no 'god'.

    October 17, 2009 at 9:03 am | Reply
  15. Andrew

    How are you coping with the real world, now that you are out of prison? What is your view on life?

    October 17, 2009 at 9:47 am | Reply
  16. vincent stephenson

    How quickly do you lose, or feel like you have lost, your humanity after joining death row?

    October 17, 2009 at 9:57 am | Reply
  17. lance

    No question but just a wish for good luck and maybe finally a little peace in your life. You fought the good fight and won. It gives me hope in a time of very little trust in government and in humanity.

    Take care!

    October 17, 2009 at 11:27 am | Reply
  18. alex

    do you think there are jailed people who are formally guilty, but it is not right they are there. the extreme case when the law didn't work as in your case is clear. when the law is applied correctly is it always right?

    October 17, 2009 at 11:29 am | Reply
  19. john gordon

    was your conviction in any way based on race ?

    October 17, 2009 at 12:06 pm | Reply
  20. Luis

    Mr. Thompson,

    I congratulate you for having had justice at last. At the same time, I wonder if your foundation could do something to bring to light cases where there were wrongful executions. I think it would do wonders towards the elimination of the savage practice of government-sanctioned murder.

    October 17, 2009 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  21. Tony

    As an american living in Europe, I can start off by saying that the death penalty is absolutely absurd. My question to you, Mr.Thompson is: After nearly 20 years of wrongful imprisonment, after being released, did you, yourself need any special therapy or anything of the like?

    Secondly, do you have personally any grudges against the US judicial system?

    Thank you and the team at CNN.

    October 17, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  22. og warner

    do you still feel mad at the legal system for losing 18 years of ur life even though you were awarded $ 14 millions?

    October 17, 2009 at 12:33 pm | Reply
  23. Terence A. Willis

    What percentage of the people proven to be wrongfully incarcerated are african-americans?

    October 17, 2009 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  24. Herbert Stewart

    Is there one event or several events that you believed led to your trial and conviction

    October 17, 2009 at 1:59 pm | Reply
  25. mike

    sup, bro... are u doing anything ie speaking out, writing etc about systemic abuse a normal inmate recieves from his co-inmates and guards. Rape, beatings, physical abuse and death threats from various groups in prision.

    October 17, 2009 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  26. vincente


    during your time of wrongful incarceration, how did you deal with the annoying inmates on death row who talk nonstop about a fictional god?

    October 17, 2009 at 3:33 pm | Reply
  27. David Crawley

    Are you awhere of the Debbie Milke case in Arazona 22years on Death row. How can she spend so long in jail on the evidence of a bent cop?

    October 17, 2009 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  28. Martin

    It must be a relief both to be out, and to have won an award. The money relieves the stress of the lost time, but cannot replace the time lost w/ your friends and family, the anxiety of 18yrs inside thinking, "I was dealt a pair of twos", and your anger in general.
    Hang onto the money, do not "celebrate" with it. I am sure you have heard this before.
    You look happy in the picture – I hope you can stay that way. Every day on this earth counts.

    – Martin

    October 17, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Reply
  29. Catherine

    Dear John, congratulations on your initiative to help others who face wrongful incarceration. You have found the strenght to turn the experience of living 18 years in prison for a crime you did not commit, into a positive action. This is a brave and admirable gesture of yours.

    October 17, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  30. Esmay van Strien


    What scared you the most, knowing you would Die or that the world would look back at you as you being a Killer???

    Greetz Esmay

    October 17, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  31. Jerry

    Do you remember in the Bible where David spent years in prison for crimes he never committed? Do you not know that is may have been God's purpose for your life. Those 18 years are now gone. Better to thank God you are free and get down to doing His work. I think the project you have started is a very honorable one. I hope if there are other who are innocent,.. you will be there to help them. Good Luck John,.. I hope you the best.

    October 17, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  32. Eddy Maya

    Do you think that there can ever be a justice that is flawless and prevents what happens to you from happening to others?

    Is there anything that you could have gained from the whole experience?

    October 17, 2009 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  33. Kathleen

    Hi John –
    Can you talk about your relationship with your family while you were incarcerated, as well as after you were exonerated?
    Also, what about the relationships you formed with others in prison?

    October 17, 2009 at 7:07 pm | Reply
  34. Michelle

    To know that your life was questioned in such a way and placed before death is an aberration of humanity. How do you make the transition back into such a society that placed an innocent man on death's row?

    October 17, 2009 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  35. modou

    After what nearely Happened to you what do you think should be done about the death penalty.

    October 17, 2009 at 7:43 pm | Reply
  36. Dapo Adeyoyin

    there goes again the power of the american legal system...a system that ensures the innocent comes out clean even if it takes a while..we hope and pray that one day we will have such a strong system in our dear nigeria...all the best wishes to the free man..

    October 17, 2009 at 8:00 pm | Reply
  37. perry williams

    how did your mind allowed you to survive during your time jail

    October 17, 2009 at 8:01 pm | Reply
  38. Sam

    did people/friends/family believe you were guilty? who supported you? who turned their back on you? how did you stay sane?

    October 17, 2009 at 8:14 pm | Reply
  39. Jonathan


    Having been a longtime resident of death row, how many of your former fellow inmates do you honestly believe are also innocent?

    October 17, 2009 at 10:29 pm | Reply
  40. Bill

    I don't know how I feel about the death penalty. I never have. The problem is that I can see both sides of it so clearly. If someone murdered my wife or son, I'll gladly "flip the switch", but does the State have the right to take a life? However, I do believe firmly that if the State is going to allow execution as a matter of law, then there must be absolutely no doubt that the condemned is guilty of the crime for which he'll be executed. If this single rule was uniform in its implementation, I could live with it. This is one instance in which Reasonable Doubt has no bearing. There must be absolutely no doubt.

    Congatulations on getting out!

    October 17, 2009 at 10:39 pm | Reply
  41. Vaughn Poulo


    What were your first thoughts as you heard that you were to be sentenced to death, knowing you had done nothing wrong?

    October 17, 2009 at 10:42 pm | Reply
  42. Randy

    Do you feel that you had the same access to legal tools and information that a person who was NOT incarcerated would have? In other words, do you feel that being incarcerated effectively made you more likely to stay that way, based on lack of access to legal tools we normally consider our right to have?

    October 17, 2009 at 11:06 pm | Reply
  43. Gregory Sherwood

    What do you see as the primary flaws in the legal system? Do you think that the fact that prosecutors are elected officials rather than government employees is one of those flaws? Do you fault specific individuals and/or corruption in your wrongful conviction?

    October 17, 2009 at 11:43 pm | Reply
  44. Rex Osagiede

    Truth is subjective they say! was your innocense your motivating factor?

    October 18, 2009 at 12:10 am | Reply
  45. Zack


    Yours is truly an inspirational story. What were some of the difficulties that you personally faced after being released?

    October 18, 2009 at 12:39 am | Reply
  46. Geoff (Japan)


    Did you ever give up hope?Did you ever think , i am going to be executed for something i didn't do?

    October 18, 2009 at 12:57 am | Reply
  47. francisco


    You're an example of miscarriage of justice. Do you reckon that the tragedy of executing one single innocent individual, should be a strong reason to abolish death penalty permanently?

    October 18, 2009 at 1:52 am | Reply
  48. Karen Bridgeford

    In your deepest darkest moments, both inside death row and now free, how do you cope with the bitterness and outrage? How do you transcend the uglyness that has happened in your life?

    October 18, 2009 at 3:10 am | Reply
  49. ann watson

    on what grounds did you get a retrial? what was the hardest adjustment outside of prison? what do you see as the most serious flaw in our judicial system, that led to your wrongful incarceration?
    wishing you peace and well-being.

    October 18, 2009 at 5:16 am | Reply
  50. Ramesh Singh

    Congratulations. How do you maintain your balance between bitterness and thankfulness ?

    October 18, 2009 at 5:59 am | Reply
  51. Allan

    How do you forgive those who wrongfully convicted you?

    October 18, 2009 at 6:10 am | Reply
  52. Andrew Dilbert

    Dear John,

    Thank God for your just exoneration and your new chance at life.

    But, after all those years, one could easily be very bitter at the system. Are you bitter? And if not, how do you stay optimistic?

    Cairo, Egypt

    October 18, 2009 at 6:36 am | Reply
  53. Jillian

    Hi John

    May the rest of your life be everything you could wish for. I wish you every happiness after having endured such a terrible travesty.

    October 18, 2009 at 7:32 am | Reply
  54. patrick

    How can the justice system (prosecutors) of the United States get something like a murder case so wrong?? Are prosecutors so "under pressure" to get a conviction (ratings) that they will cut corners, deminish their morality, and integrity to "get their man"? What happened to simply doing the right thing and to hell with politics?

    Patrick Moran

    October 18, 2009 at 8:47 am | Reply
  55. Thomas

    Hi John

    Good news. Wow! I hope you will be able to enjoy life looking forward letting those awful years stay well in the past, if you know what I mean. Spending some of that money of yours on raising awareness is probably also a good way of healing yourself. Splendid idea. I hope that your case highlights the awful aspects of capital punishment. My question would be: How did you keep up? How did you stay 'sane'?

    Sincerely Yours from Denmark

    October 18, 2009 at 9:44 am | Reply
  56. Mitzi Baer

    May each new day bring you happiness and a sense of real freedom! I congratulate you with your renewal of life.
    Mitzi ( The Netherlands)

    October 18, 2009 at 10:00 am | Reply
  57. Hugh

    I was wondering how many of your family and friends believed completely in your innocence until you got out and which ones started to view you with suspicion. It must have been very difficult for you. I hope you live a good rest of your life happy, healthy, and rich.

    October 18, 2009 at 10:14 am | Reply
  58. Paul

    John, based on what we see in numerous prison drama films, denial of guilt is widespread among the incarcerated. When the courts have failed to discern the truth, do you think there are personal traits or signs that could distinguish those who should be vindicated?

    October 18, 2009 at 10:55 am | Reply
  59. Phillip

    Even though no amount of money can truly compensate you for what you went through, were you given anything from the state?

    October 18, 2009 at 11:04 am | Reply
  60. joe

    and what crimes did he get away with that led police to him in the first place?.. its not the first crime that's caught..

    October 18, 2009 at 11:27 am | Reply
  61. rachel Meyer

    well you must be pretty angry

    did you believe you would ever be found innocent

    October 18, 2009 at 11:32 am | Reply
  62. candice

    1.) How was your innocence eventually proven over such a long period of time?

    2.) what was it like being treated like a criminal when you were unjustly charged of a crime you did not commit?

    3.) now that you have been awarded a settlement for wrongly being incarcerated how do you plan on spending your money? (besides what we already know, that you are the founder of RAE)

    Thank you for answering our questions. We wish you all the best of your endevours and all the success you deserve after all you have been though. You shine a light of hope for all those few people that are innocent and wrongly condemed in the judicial system.

    October 18, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Reply
  63. Rachel


    I am so sorry– and so glad that justice has finally been served. What kept you holding on so long in prison? Were there tiny positive things in your life that gave you energy? What did you do on your first day once you had been released?

    With a big hug,

    October 18, 2009 at 1:14 pm | Reply
  64. SilverShadow


    Most people have asked you a question. None from me, I think you have your hand full with questions. I just want to congratulate in getting a life again in freedom. I can't imagine how you survived 20 years thinking every day of the execution day and can't further imagine what you will go through your life loosing 20 years. Whatever you have left, I wish you all the best. Pray to God, and I pray to Allah SWT that you are happy from now on.

    With best regards,

    October 18, 2009 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  65. khaled

    Dear John,

    From the questions, i noticed that some of the people were saying that your situations proves that there is "No God"... i just wanted to reply on them saying .... God do exists and you cant just see in one direction .... there are millions of people who are free in africa but they have dont any thing to eat same as there are millions been killed and kidnapped and soon on.... but that doesnt say that there is "No God" ...
    this life is an exam for all of us and all of us will face many difficulties and many problems .... and we will be tested on what we faced and how we were behaving in such matters.... believe me life is very important to be lived right .... because it is the path for the everlasting after life .... God Do exist and all of us are here as a proof of his existence...and for john i would like to say just put this 18 years behind your back and think that maybe God did this for something God to you ... maybe if you were outside you would been killed or murdered .... Always think positive towards God because he will always the right things in the right time for us...

    October 18, 2009 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  66. Hidde


    Would you consider waiting 18 years of your life for your death cruel and unusual punishment?

    October 18, 2009 at 1:59 pm | Reply
  67. D.C

    John, my heart goes out to you and your children. Can't really imagine what you and your family must've gone through.
    Now that you're out, do you feel bitter or happy? I know I would probably hold a massive grudge against the judicial system if they were to lock me up for 18 years on wrong charges. 14m dollars is just a way of making the life you have now more comfortable, but they still made you lose a precious aumont of time that can't be returned by any material means.

    So, do you feel angry, sad? Or do you have a more positive outlook on life now that you're finally free, forgave and forgot?

    October 18, 2009 at 2:26 pm | Reply
  68. Trevor Reid

    I have long had an interest in human rights, and see the US death penalty as something that must be fought hard. I usually write to US state governors when there is a DNA exoneration for a serious crime.

    I have read that Innocenceproject get a very high exoneration
    rate is cases where DNA is eventually tested ( Don't know what it is but I know it is high – over 30% I think when I last checked )
    Why does this not shock Americans ?

    Are you aware of any research , and analysis of statistics like
    these – that will give a reasonable guess of the number of innocent people on American death row ?

    Trevor Reid
    South Africa

    October 18, 2009 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  69. Edit Or

    I can't find an appropriate word ... so congratulations. I can only imagine how awful that time must have been.

    So, from going without so much to being awarded $14 million, how does one adjust – or does one ever?

    October 18, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Reply
  70. gks

    Hello John

    What do you think was the most valuable thing you were able to learn when on death row? Is freedom really something physical or is it a state of mind?

    thank you. i wish you all the very best!

    October 18, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  71. Anonymous User

    Are any of the rumours about torture in prison true? What did they do to you while in prison?

    October 18, 2009 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  72. Katrina

    Are you bitter?

    Katrina in Japan

    October 18, 2009 at 4:28 pm | Reply
  73. Syed

    The money probably does not even come close to the feeling of spending 18 years on death row, thinking perhaps every day may be your last day. It is like the best years of your life wasted for a crime you did not commit. It is also sad to know that there must have been many similar cases where the truth did not see the light of day. I strongly feel that the death penalty should be abolished and other such cases should also be scrutinized with the aid of modern day technology

    October 18, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Reply


    October 18, 2009 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  75. Yvonne Westhoek

    Dear Mr. Thompson,

    I hope that your wrongful conviction will finally open the eyes of people in the USA about the death penalty being such a disgracefully violation of human rights. It should have been abolished long time ago.

    I wish you all the best!

    October 18, 2009 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  76. kunle daniel snr.

    i feel for you as a better part of your youthful days was squanderered unnecessarily, however what will be will be

    October 18, 2009 at 4:53 pm | Reply
  77. AmericanLivingAbroad

    So, if "new" evidence was brought forward and I assume that would be scientific or DNA, what was the glue for evidence against you that convicted you way back when? What was the main or critical piece of evidence that made a jury or judge believe beyond a reasonable doubt that you were guilty?

    October 18, 2009 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  78. Nicolas ikenna ukwa

    if you could start life all over again, what will you change? what will keep doing?

    October 18, 2009 at 5:11 pm | Reply
  79. AL

    it is widely believed that things do happen for a reason. quoting stories from the bible, prophet Joseph was falsely accused and did spend time in prison. all to a happy ending at last. behind all of this, a message was passed. a value is taught. an enlightenment was achieved.

    can you relate?

    October 18, 2009 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  80. Eleutheros

    Dear John,

    how often do you think about other innocent people convicted to death or even already executed? Do you have a feeling "why me"? Do you ask yourself "Whats the real murderer doing now, what was he doing all the time before while I was in prison"?

    October 18, 2009 at 5:44 pm | Reply
  81. Hans

    Always an incredible heartwrenching story when people have to do time after living an innocent life. As somebody who myself spend the biblical number of 40 days in 13 cells in 5 prisons in France and the Netherlands after living a life trying to serve my family and society during the times of Dutch St. Nicolas, Christmas and New Year 2006/2007 I just felt like mentioning to Think Universal and Well Concerned that within the walls of jails worldwide, just like in plain that seem to be crashing, even the most hardened criminals and murderers tend to attend the church services held in those prisons and do a lot of praying and thinking about God asking themselves questions what life is all about and why they/we are where we are (whether inside or outside of walls either visible or invisible). So to most people jailed there definitely is a God and discipline is one of His strongest tools to convince people of His very existence. Glad to hear of one life saved though 18 years too late. Barbaric country in certain ways and certain States, the USA, very civilized in other ways as well. Prefer living in Monaco now! Just 30 kms from where I spent my first night in prison and where the French Gendarmerie put two guns to my head when they arrested me at Nice Cote-d'Azur airport. Anyways....life can surely take some very unexpected and strange turns for anybody, believe me....thanks to "Justice".... Greetings, Hans.

    October 18, 2009 at 6:39 pm | Reply
  82. andy

    How many innocent people do you think are in prison, in the third world. In those countries they do not even get reasonable doubt. You are guilty until proven innocent. Our system is not perfect. It is so much better than most of the world. I wish people would travel more and see this. I am sorry for your time in prison. Glad you are out. Do some traveling with that money!!!

    October 18, 2009 at 6:40 pm | Reply
  83. Capital Punishment?

    What do you think is the best argument for Capital Punishment?
    What do you think is the best argument against Capital Punishment?

    October 18, 2009 at 7:05 pm | Reply
  84. Jerry

    So wonderful to know that you took your wrong conviction and suffering and used it to create something that will certainlly be helpul to others. Only in the past few years have I realized how simple it is for law enforcement to make such huge flaws, and in particular against black males. Keep doing great things!

    October 18, 2009 at 7:21 pm | Reply
  85. Redbeard

    How did you cope with the thought of the execution? Can a person ever be mentally prepared for the actual killing process?

    My deepest symathy with the things you've gone through, by the way. The thought of innocent people still sitting on Death Row is painful. And I have more sympathy with the guilty ones than they deserve.

    Thank you.

    October 18, 2009 at 7:22 pm | Reply
  86. DM Spiegel

    "Our system works"...Huh John! Good thing the government is never wrong! Anger be your sword to fight the injustice that was brought upon you! Strike them swiftly and with vengence. May God bless you and reap his wrath on those that wronged you!

    October 18, 2009 at 7:25 pm | Reply
  87. Elezer Puglia

    John, it's good to see that you did not lose your faith in all of these years. However, it must still be very tough to look back and see that 18 years of your life were stolen from you by a failure in the justice system. What do you have to say to those responsible for this terrible mistake? Do you seek any kind of revenge, retaliation or compensation? Have you forgiven them?

    October 18, 2009 at 7:27 pm | Reply
  88. Eve

    If you are an "innocent" man how is it you got "caught up" in this kind of business and were actually sentenced to death? How "innocent" do you claim yourself to be?

    October 18, 2009 at 7:27 pm | Reply
  89. martin saliba

    There are to main reasons why i am not sure if the death penalty is justified. First i belive that as John many people have been wrongly convicted and secondly for the guilty without doubt it it the easy way out.

    October 18, 2009 at 8:01 pm | Reply
  90. Erowo


    how did you cope with the injustice then before the retrial, and how do you cope with it now?


    October 18, 2009 at 8:01 pm | Reply
  91. James Eaton

    How did they treat you compared to white people? Was there racism in death row? What kind of food did you get?

    Good luck in your new life and welcome back to society.

    October 18, 2009 at 8:10 pm | Reply
  92. ronnie

    I have never believed in the death penalty for any one of the reasons given in these comments. I will admit though that I understand Bill's statement because I would probably feel the same and I daresay that there are more than a few readers who feel the same. However, lets be honest with ourselves, what we we looking for is vengeance not justice.

    I am truly amazed by John. Not only did he weather 18 horrible years wrongfully imprisioned but now he has started a program to help others. After losing 18 years, I am not so sure I would want to anything for anyone except myself.

    October 18, 2009 at 8:19 pm | Reply
  93. shine ur eyes

    If u sit down thinking about the 20yrs lost u would be loosing more mins in ur life time....look at the bright side....4 20yrs u had free food, rent free comfy room and bed....no water,gas or electricity bill to pay...then all of a sudden freedom with cash!!!!ur a millionaire!!!im so damnn sure u can buy the wasted time back!!!!!...4give those who wrong u and learn to enjoy ur life without regret!!!

    October 18, 2009 at 8:36 pm | Reply
  94. gabriel

    What are your plans from now on John?

    Good Luck

    October 18, 2009 at 9:14 pm | Reply
  95. Godwin Edofiagbor


    Am happy for you.

    That is how life is all about, is hard to believe but the truth have come up.

    October 18, 2009 at 9:43 pm | Reply
  96. Elaine Albertson

    John...given your personal experience and insight, what people, process(es), or influence(s) would you say were most directly responsible for your wrongful conviction? What would you say could or should be done to correct or eliminate those factors?

    October 18, 2009 at 9:54 pm | Reply
  97. Jaroslav Nemec

    Do you know about Hans Sherrer and his Justice Denied magazine for wrongly convicted? They published an article about you back then that raised some interest even from the DA's office.

    wishing good luck with your R-A-E.

    October 18, 2009 at 10:49 pm | Reply
  98. Jero

    John, while you were in prison, was there something you'd wanted to do, just for yourself, should you ever be set free? What was that? Will you do it now?

    They took away 18 years of your life, but what counts now is those years that lie ahead of you. I hope you will be able to put them to good use and fill them (and have them) filled with joy and love.

    October 18, 2009 at 11:01 pm | Reply
  99. Rob - Western Australia

    What is it, if anything, that you feel you did wrong in this process?
    In many of these types of cases, there's a lot of blame (rightly so), but was there a point where you said to yourself "I shouldn't have said this, or I should've pointed out that"?

    Are there lessons for others that find themselves incorrectly in the spotlight for something they clearly did not do?

    I hope you're writing a book, because I would happily add some royalties to that measly 14 million they gave you.

    Best of Luck


    October 18, 2009 at 11:18 pm | Reply
  100. anti

    did god save you John? Were the inmates as cruel as the guards?

    Peace and good luck John you made it.

    October 18, 2009 at 11:46 pm | Reply
  101. Adrian Pereyra

    How do you keep from not going bezerk on other people after an experience like that? Because I was falsely arrested for only 4 months and I am mad as hell.

    October 18, 2009 at 11:54 pm | Reply
  102. R Shreiner

    Best wishes to you John.
    Has this experience made you angry ? And if so, is it one or more of the individuals who played a role in your death sentence, or the justice system in general you are angry with ?
    It is understandable to be angry, but if you are I hope that you may soon find it possible to forgive those responsible for your your situation, even if they are not capable of asking your forgiveness.
    My thoughts are with you,
    Rick Shreiner
    Stockholm, Sweden

    October 19, 2009 at 12:36 am | Reply
  103. Clarence

    There are reasons for everything and your freedom is now blessing you with forgivness.

    October 19, 2009 at 12:39 am | Reply
  104. Person of the World

    I wonder...people who are innocent end up in jail on death row for years until it is their time to die, and in some cases are exhonorated...but sick criminals previously convicted (so sure thing that they did the crime) of unspeakable offences towards children get to walk around free after a few measly years in jail!!!???!!!

    October 19, 2009 at 2:45 am | Reply
  105. Ron

    This is another classic example of America's corrupt judicial system. People in your country need to lobby President Obama and other politicians to revamp the whole judicial and prison system. Until then, the death penalty in the USA should be temporarily suspended. I was shocked to read recently that thousands of inmates in US prisons are sexually abused each year by guards. Then more recently is the pending trial of an AL(?) judge on charges of sexually abusing prisoners. How inhumane and shocking. is life behind bars for inmates. The American people should be disgusted that such things (and more) are going on in the so-called land -of -the free.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:19 am | Reply
  106. Bruce Blacklaws

    What are you going to do with the $14 million?

    October 19, 2009 at 4:36 am | Reply
  107. Diane


    I can not even begin to imagine what you have been through and the bounty of emotions you would have experienced during all these years imprisoned – In the difficult times in my life I have always firmly believed that everything happens for a reason – do you believe in this philosophy?Perhaps because of your ordeal know you can now help others in similar circumstances – so you have turned a negative into a positive which is something we can all do (-:

    October 19, 2009 at 4:39 am | Reply
  108. diag

    I cryed when I read about your situation..
    So unfair! Even it sounds silly I would like to hug you,coz no words can express the suffer of the soul...
    Deep in side,where you surre that the truth would come out in good time?
    Did you have doubts?

    Take good care of you!

    October 19, 2009 at 5:09 am | Reply
  109. Arri

    did they ever find the real killer?

    October 19, 2009 at 5:19 am | Reply
  110. Jim W

    do you believe that the death penalty should be abolished? do you think that you will work on legislation to try an abolish it "as cruel and unusual punishment"? One life not taken wrongly would be worth whatever it takes to abolish this law.

    October 19, 2009 at 5:19 am | Reply
  111. Chris

    It is always strange that black people are playing the race card. Can't black people just get along with society and open their eyes. There is so many white people on death row too, also not guilty. This is not a racist thing, this is a wrong doing to a normal human being. I wonder if when Obama is going to do something wrong, like Bush, and the people are going make jokes, remarks, and other comments about him they will be called racists? WAKE UP!

    October 19, 2009 at 5:25 am | Reply
  112. Tyler

    With you new organization, how do you plan to prevent guilty people from taking advantage of your services?

    October 19, 2009 at 6:14 am | Reply
  113. Sophia

    Considering that the Death Penalty does not seem to keep crime rates in America from ever increasing do you think it should be abolished?

    Are there other ways we can use science to give us the optimum chance to collect as much evidence as possible?

    October 19, 2009 at 6:40 am | Reply
  114. Teri

    I feel sorry that you had to live somewhere all these years that you finally feel it becomes like home...It hurts to know when someone is innocent and that they have to live every day and knowing they will be executed the way you did.

    I wish you the best and I am sure that your faith will let you live for the rest of your life in great health and happiness.

    October 19, 2009 at 6:50 am | Reply
  115. Sharif

    Hi John,
    being the victim of a failed system and knowing that you are innocent, how did you cope all these time !?

    October 19, 2009 at 6:52 am | Reply
  116. Radek

    How has the horrific experience you went through changed your personality and the view of the world and what are the major differences?


    October 19, 2009 at 6:54 am | Reply
  117. Chichi

    To Mr. Well Concerned, if belief in God means you are not sensible then I am proud to belong to that group of people. Vincent's question is very right. I am sure it was John Thompson's belief in God that gave him hope year after year of his incarceration and God finally set him free. Most so-called "sensible" people in our world today resort to suicide as a way out of a little problem just because they do not have any spiritual strength in them to hold on to. I am a Christian and a firm believer in the existence of God and irrespective of what atheists may think, it does not cancel the fact that God exists!

    October 19, 2009 at 7:15 am | Reply
  118. John Dorian

    How do you think the legal system could be 'fixed'

    October 19, 2009 at 7:23 am | Reply
  119. Magdalena-Maria-Anna

    If John Tompson can find forgivness within himself for those who destroyed his life, he should be made Saint! As far as I am concerned, yes relief, but no, I could never forgive and forget no matter how much money I was awarded in civil suits...I mean, 20 years????!!!!

    October 19, 2009 at 7:33 am | Reply
  120. Ziad from Jordan

    Hi John,
    After spending 18 years in prison falsely accused, what is your advice to those who might be suffering at the moment of the same situation that you went through?

    October 19, 2009 at 7:40 am | Reply
  121. Elizabeth

    what was the one thing that you regretted the most
    when you were in jail ?
    what are your specific plans for saving people on a false charge?

    October 19, 2009 at 7:57 am | Reply
  122. Christopher

    Mr. John Thompson,
    I think it is great that you can take something so negitive and turn it into a positive. I hope that with the time you have left in your life you spend it with the ones that mean the most to you to make up for the wasted years that our judicial system has caused you to miss out on. God bless you and your family for overcoming the odds and thank god for answering your prayers that one day the truth will be revealed.
    Very Respectfully,

    October 19, 2009 at 7:57 am | Reply
  123. Maya

    Because you were convicted, did them telling you you were guilty ever make you believe that you were in fact gulity? Even if you were actually innocent?

    October 19, 2009 at 8:15 am | Reply
  124. Serge

    John, what exactly did you feel when you, an innocent man, were placed on death row along with people that in fact WERE extremely dangerous? And moreover, how was is to adapt to them being your company for so long and then suddenly finding yourself within society again?

    October 19, 2009 at 8:15 am | Reply
  125. Joseph

    I have always belived that some crimes deserve the death penalty, but I strongly request that no innocent person(s) should be made to die unjustly. however it is so nice that John is free at last. How has this experience brough his closer to GOD?

    October 19, 2009 at 8:19 am | Reply
  126. Lorraine

    It is one of those times when we should all be ashamed of being human. Image enduring a life on death row for a crime that you are not guilty of. I admire you John and can only say how sorry I am that we as a society failed you. Live your life to the full now and always be happy.

    October 19, 2009 at 8:23 am | Reply
  127. Alex Player

    Hi, i'm interested in knowing:

    *What was the worse part/thing about being locked away for so long?
    *And what was your daily schedule/routine that you had, to help pass the time?

    Best wishes to you, your an inspiration of hope,


    October 19, 2009 at 8:28 am | Reply
  128. Thapelo Rametsi

    This was torture in itself. Imagine every minute thinking of your destination! I feel sorry for you, you might be a millonaire but I do not think that you are enjoying the money. Wrongful conviction is depressing.

    I hope that the community accepted you back with open arms without prejudice and so does your family especially your children. Peace be with you for the rest of your life and God Bless you.

    Justice at last. I am wondering how many people are there like you in jail waiting to executed wrongly!

    October 19, 2009 at 8:44 am | Reply
  129. Phillip Tembu

    What is your next step in life?
    How did it feel when you received the news that you are a free man now? Did some of your inmates express hope that they too may be found innocent?
    Are you planning to write a memoir on this experience?
    Have you received any offers to turn your experience into a movie?

    All the best in life.

    October 19, 2009 at 8:47 am | Reply
  130. Ama

    how did you feel knowing you were going to die?

    October 19, 2009 at 9:21 am | Reply
  131. Bruce

    Hey John.
    Congrats man – however I believe in the death penalty.
    All of you out there, if you were to lose a loved one in a brutal murder, you who want the death penalty abolished, think of how you would want the guilty person to be punished. Until you lose a family member to murder please stop trying to abolish the death penalty.
    Enjoy the money John – you deserve it!

    October 19, 2009 at 9:50 am | Reply
  132. anseljr

    Was there ever a time during your incarceration where you thought "hey, maybe I did do it, but I wasn't myself that day"?

    October 19, 2009 at 9:53 am | Reply
  133. Gerhard

    Dear John,

    In the years to follow your incarceration, did you feel that there was anything that your legal team could have done to change the outcome?

    GS – Cape Town, South Africa

    October 19, 2009 at 10:09 am | Reply
  134. Bo

    Did you manage to keep in contact with your children during your imprisonment? How are you "making up for lost time" with them now?

    October 19, 2009 at 10:09 am | Reply
  135. Greg

    Hi John,

    I almost went through this very same scenario, albeit it wasn't for murder and consequently, I was finally set free after my lawyer found out the defendents were lying. It's scary that this happens to so many innocent black men everyday in America and the government barely blinks an eye at the wrong they've caused. America judicial system is so fundamentally flawed that it makes my stomach sick to this very day. I was freaking out while imagining that I too was soon to be another victim of unfair judgement and racial prejudice. I admire your strength and will to survive after such a horrible ordeal. God pulled me through although I felt like breaking down each day, knowing I was innocent. I trust you to stand up and be an advocate to the injustice that no monentary value could every satisfy. While although you're free, the damage done to your psychological state of well being will never be the same. This is absolutely a shame and downright disgrace to the human nature.

    God bless you,


    October 19, 2009 at 10:13 am | Reply
  136. Lisa

    Hi John,

    Unlike some of the commentors on this page, I will not use this forum to voice my own personal views about racism and religion. I will simply say that I am happy for you and hope that you will live a happy and full life from now on. Also, I think the fact that you are turning such a negative personal experience into something extremely positive takes a lot of strength and I applaud your efforts in RAE. Good luck to you.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:21 am | Reply
  137. Wayne

    John, I can only imagine the stress you went through not knowing that each day could be you last. I am so thankful you are alive. Trust God has big plans for you in life.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:28 am | Reply
  138. Jim

    What do you say to death penalty proponents who say that your release "proves" that the system works?

    Congatulations and may the universe bless you.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:36 am | Reply
  139. Abdullah T.

    Congratulation on getting out.

    Please tell me what was the first thing you did the minute you got out prison and how did it feel ? Do you think money will bring back the 20 years of your life missed in jail ? what do you think is the best way to use that money in ? What would did you answerwhen you where asked in prison about how did you get in? and what was the asker's response.

    Again congratulation on your freedom i hope you enjoy your life and live a happy life with your family.

    October 19, 2009 at 10:55 am | Reply
  140. Gugo

    Man, you just came out of little prizon into a huge one. This planet turned into a prizon with walls of lies. Use your money wellto get away from the centers of activity, and protect yourself against modern pll – they're full of hate, envy and greed but they hide it behind the smiles and hugs.
    Hold on, man.

    October 19, 2009 at 11:10 am | Reply
  141. Chris

    This may be a bit morbid, but despite having your convictions proven correct in the end, were there any moments where it seemed so hopeless that you wished the execution came early?

    October 19, 2009 at 11:16 am | Reply
  142. Amy

    I don't have a question for you. I'm just sending you some love and good wishes! I'm very sorry about what happened to you. I wish you all the best for the future. You certainly deserve to have lots and lots of good things happen to you!

    October 19, 2009 at 11:46 am | Reply
  143. Alexa

    John, first I would like to say that you were a millionaire already, with the endless hope you endured these 20 years in prison. You prove to be rich in spirit and in greatness for you are the voice for many who were in your place. I would like to know what positive you have carried out of this situation despite the negativity of it all and also, how do you plan to rebuild you relationship with your children.

    Keep the light shinning!

    October 19, 2009 at 11:48 am | Reply
  144. Christian

    You lost a big part of your life to an imperfect system (and I think im being kind with this wording). As am natural born citizen of the United states of American (just like you), i like to say a very big sorry. We all deserve equal treatment, but unfortunatly this is not the real world. How can we change people minds to give better opportunities to reduce the crimes, violence, and including corporate corruption. Yes Education, time, and hard work of our parents. But look at the rich and the greed. difference is the poor are desperate and find little hope. Versus the greed of the few who are not giving back what I consider a obligation to 'give back'. Education for all, security (a place to live, insurance and medical) for retired, Propere unemployemetn benefits that will allow people to make better decisions for there families future, not need to get one in next month due to the possible loss of everything. Please you must have an oppinion that might encourage change or insight that will be usefull for the young / future generations of US Citizens. So they can pull the country out of the current enconomic uncertanties. Not to go to war but give aid, medical help, and support to growing nations. Good luck with your interview show on monday.

    October 19, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Reply
  145. Bob in Tokyo


    I am so happy that you were saved in time (not executed) but I feel sad that you lost 18 years of your life for something you didn't do. I think of the last 18 years of my life and I can't imagine how I would feel if they were gone and I was just getting out of prison for something I didn't do.
    The government has acknowledged their wrong-doing in convicting an innocent man by giving you $14 million.
    My first question is this: what percentage did you have to give to your lawyers and what percentage was taken in tax?
    My second question is this: what is the government doing to support you and your efforts now that it is known that they mistakenly took 18 years of your life away?

    I wish you all the best.


    October 19, 2009 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  146. peter

    the death penalty shows us how barbaric you americans are.

    October 19, 2009 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  147. Geneviève Lavoie

    I think I would have to start by giving you a big hug! I can't even imagine what it would be like to be wrongfully accused and can just imagine that you must have prayed really hard!!!! 🙂 . Had you come to terms with death before you got the possibility if a retrial? Had youaccepted it or never stopped fighting ang believing? The main question I have is with you kids and family. How did they deal with this situation? Where they there for you threw this whole ordeal? Did they believe your innocence? Stand by you? And now that you are free, have you been able to rekindle or rebuild the relationship?

    I have to finish by saying that the program you offer is fantastic! After what hapenned to you, you could have chosen many different paths but didn't! What a great contribution to society you are! Have a great life!


    October 19, 2009 at 12:30 pm | Reply
  148. Mullen Gibson, Dubai

    Who do you blame after all the years you spent without any evidence to your earlier exoneration. Do you blame the Government on the process of investigating? Do you feel the 14million USD is enough for all the period you wasted in JAIL.

    October 19, 2009 at 12:30 pm | Reply
  149. Rani

    God is not finished with you yet and He has work for you to do. I am thankful that He gave you the strength to have faith and hope and not to flatter.

    Your prayer life must have kept you going and do it for others.

    October 19, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Reply
  150. Gregory

    I am glad you are free. I cannot imagine the horrors day in and day out that you must have endured for 18 years of wrongful imprisonment. No monetary award is enough for what you have lost.. I hope this never happens to anyone else again.. and yet.. I know it will.

    October 19, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Reply
  151. Barbara in Japan


    May each and every day be a celebration for you! Seeing your photo shows a man who appears happy on the outside, and I hope the same is true in your heart, after all you have endured.

    Not a profound question, but who was the first person you wanted to see when you left prison, and what did you do your very first full day out?

    Blessings to you and yours

    October 19, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Reply
  152. Mike

    I certainly think that there are good arguments for the death penalty. NOT deterrence; because if that's the argument then all that matters is that society THINK the executed person was guilty, not that he/ she actually be guilty. And of course study after study has shown that the actual people who commit capital crimes aren't "deterred" by the prospect of capital punishment.

    No, the argument for capital punishment has to– morally– hinge on one thing only: "merit". A person should be executed because he/ she deserves it, because he or she committed a capital crime, in cold blood. Then, and only then, is it right that capital punishment take place– and for that reason only.

    What is particularly alarming, though, is that there are a lot of commentators out there (state senators, op-ed writers, etc.) who don't seem to think that the inability of the American "system" to distinguish consistently between the guilty and the non-guilty is a knock against the system. Taking these people at their word, it's hard to escape the conclusion that there are folks who think it's simply important that SOMEONE be excecuted, well, just because. And these are, often, the same folks who treat executions not as a solemn duty that we have to perform, regrettably, because justice demands it... but as an occasion for a tailgate party with "Burn in –" signs.

    This is truly bizarre. Singapore, for example, has capital punishment, but they don't have depraved idiots with "Burn, baby, Burn" signs. The fact that so many Americans take apparent JOY in seeing other people executed– and don't think doubts about guilt are a valid reason for caution– is really scary.

    October 19, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  153. eddy

    with your experience, what advice do you have for up and comming youth

    October 19, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Reply
  154. Krzys

    Was the actual killer ever found? Did you feel compelled to act in this regard? how would you feel if he/she were to be put on death row?

    October 19, 2009 at 1:07 pm | Reply
  155. Abby

    What was the major flaw in the legal system you encountered?

    October 19, 2009 at 1:09 pm | Reply
  156. Ziad

    its amazing that you used what happened to you to help others.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:19 pm | Reply
  157. Garrett W

    Mr. Thompson,

    Now that so much has been wrongfully taken from you, how do you respond to the justice system, and the individuals associated within? How can you forgive....how can you forget?

    My humble regards, John. I hope picking up the pieces poses no challenge for you and your family.
    – Garrett

    October 19, 2009 at 1:23 pm | Reply
  158. emily

    Did you ever attempt to rationalize being put on death row as an innocent man?

    October 19, 2009 at 1:26 pm | Reply
  159. Nascimento

    I live in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Here is very common people stay at prison for many years and they are not guilty. Time never come back even you win a lot of money.

    I am so happy for you stay out of prison now.

    God bless you.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:26 pm | Reply
  160. michael j. heavey

    Death Penalty has lost its effects when became private.

    As a matter of fact, in the old days when was held in public, was a clear signal of justice ( or injustice in this case). Now a days, as it is done in private, people do not feel or see the terrible punishment, becoming absolutelly non effective. With true for life sentences you can overpass death penalty, but it is just a part of justice that is done.

    In the application of death penalty the fact of doing it public is a teaching for the consecuences of your acts that can be a strong teaching to potential criminals. Seeing is believing...

    October 19, 2009 at 1:28 pm | Reply
  161. Nelson

    I'm thankful this man was found innocent before it was too late, but though there may be more out there, I still feel this is a rare occurence. For those who oppose the death penalty, what are your alternatives? There seems to be very little out there to deter behavior. So many people, as shown here in these comments, look at America as a barbaric country full of hate. But like so many other countries, nobody has really figured out how to deter violence.

    October 19, 2009 at 1:40 pm | Reply
  162. Rich

    What was it like for your family? What is the hardest part about re-integrating, specifically with them?

    October 19, 2009 at 1:43 pm | Reply
  163. Yasmin Amer

    Praise be to ALLAH....
    innocent people will ofcourse survive...
    we are so happy for you. How was your last days in prison, knowing that you'll soon be executed (and not knowing that you'll be free)??

    Good luck...

    October 19, 2009 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  164. Jacob


    What was one things except the family that you missed the most? Who was one person that you were most mad at? Do you forgive that person now that you are out? Also, do you feel that the investigation authorities failed you and your family or were they just doing their job?

    October 19, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Reply
  165. Mujib

    Let me first command you on your strength in the face of injustice. You my friend is the reason why I do not support the 'Death Penalty'.

    My question is, how has your time in prison changed your view of the U.S. legal system and how has the outide change you?

    All the best John,

    October 19, 2009 at 1:52 pm | Reply
  166. Raquel

    What about your kids John? Your wife? Do you still have your family? Are you with them now? I believe you have the best years of your life ahead of you...but as you are on planet Earth yet..be sure to face sadness again...I do wish you and your kids the best.

    Raquel – Brazil

    October 19, 2009 at 2:29 pm | Reply
  167. Thomas Freeman Ebenezer

    Judges are not God, they do not know everything but most of them claims they do and innocents are paying the BILLS. Thousands are now in jail paying penalities for the craim they did not commit, Don't pray for reveng or try to fight back. My advice to you is this, thousands are still there wrongful convicted pls. dont forget them, they are looking forword to see how you can be of help, you have had the expirence.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  168. daniel gervais

    you have gone though something that i can't even begin to imagine.
    you are my hero. I salute you sir. i hope you can now find, treasure, share and enjoy true life, and the happiness that is out there.
    thank you for sharing your story

    October 19, 2009 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  169. anna-maria

    Dear John,

    good luck and enjoy life and your family.

    I`m glad we don`t have the death penalty over here.
    Greetings from Germany

    October 19, 2009 at 2:48 pm | Reply
  170. Heinz

    Its funny how the US always claims to bring "freedom" to other "underdeveloped" countries. The US wants to teach them right from wrong. In fact, you guys are no better than developing countries! Civilized countries DO NOT HAVE DEATH PENALTIES. Thank God that we got over this issue DECADES ago here in Europe.

    Human rights????? Seem to be foreign words for you guys and sadly not just when it commes to foreign affairs......you even violate human rights at home 🙂 ....In the Land of the "free"?????...This is where I do not want to be 🙂

    October 19, 2009 at 2:57 pm | Reply
  171. Anna

    If the death penalty is abolished, what do you think should be the 'ultimate' punishment for those who commit the most depraved of crimes?

    What in your opinion was the most difficult or inhumane aspect of being on death row, other knowing that your life was gonna be taken away from you???

    October 19, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Reply
  172. Michael

    Dear Mr. Thompson,

    if you could speak to the Jury that convicted you 24 years ago,
    what would you like to tell them ?



    October 19, 2009 at 3:34 pm | Reply
  173. Tony Chatoyan

    Dear John, Now that you are free, look ahead, forget the past and injoy your life, its easy for me to say, But you can never bring back the years you lost. My friend this was written in your destiney, I,m happy and jotfull that an inocent oerson like you has to pass true 20 of his life for Mistak done by Autorities. Keep your the Good work that you started, and God bless you

    October 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  174. dutch guy

    did you seek religion as a get out of jail card because the jury was deeply religious as well?

    October 19, 2009 at 4:26 pm | Reply
  175. Gibbaan

    John.Don't look back.Invest some of that money and live the rest of your life like there's no tomorrow !! I know no amount of money could make up for the years lost.

    October 19, 2009 at 4:31 pm | Reply
  176. Abiodun

    John, indeed you are a clear picture of the Grace of God. For He's got a lot laid out for you to do while here, he's got you prepared for almost 20 years. And that you started alredy.

    I am most of all happy for you.

    But, no matter how much justice is pursued and modernized – humans will forever err, and the miscarriage in our Judiciary will ever remain. Those who are favored by a retrial need really set the pace like John and build our communities back to the land of Peace we wish them to be.

    Welcome back to the world my brother, John

    October 19, 2009 at 4:48 pm | Reply
  177. MIla

    Nobody has the riight to take the life of another human being, no matter what that person has done. The death penalty is a murder "with permission" it should be abolished.

    October 19, 2009 at 5:07 pm | Reply
  178. LLOYD


    October 19, 2009 at 5:16 pm | Reply
  179. Tia Han

    John and family, praise God that justice came to light in your day ... May He bless you richly and restore "the years that the locust has eaten." He is able ... Remember the Cross, brother. Remember His resurrection.

    How can we be praying for you and your family?

    October 19, 2009 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  180. Provi Mordan

    John: I'm very HAPPY for YOU! GOD BLESS YA

    October 19, 2009 at 5:31 pm | Reply
  181. Jamie Douglas

    Do you think judges/prosecuters /government/state should be held accountable for wrongful executions – i.e. people who are later proved to have been innocent of the crimes they were executed for??? In short should thoses responsible for wrongful executions be tried/charged for murder////

    October 19, 2009 at 5:40 pm | Reply
  182. Mike Walker


    Praise God. You've overcome a very difficult ordeal and I pray the Lord will return the years the locus have eaten. –Mike

    October 19, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Reply
  183. Safia

    Dear John, I've been following your story for a few years. I'm very happy to see your success & wish you all best. Your strength is truly commendable. I have 2 questions :
    Did you watch Shawshank Redemption ;)? If so, when did you see it & what were your thoughts?

    Have you gone to the prisons as a counsellor for the inmates? There might be some who have also been wrongfully imprisoned & could get inspired.

    October 19, 2009 at 6:15 pm | Reply
  184. Ibraheem Hamoodi


    I would like to simply ask , what kept you going ?

    October 19, 2009 at 6:35 pm | Reply
  185. Asaf

    John, congratulations – despite the very harsh deal you have been dealt. In the past 18 years, have you met anyone else that you truly believe to be innocent?

    October 19, 2009 at 6:51 pm | Reply
  186. anna-maria

    What is wrong with you people?? God was not involved in this. It was wrong in the first place. John I`m so sorry for your lost 20 years. If you all are so into the bible why is there still a death penalty in some states? Oh I get it an eye for an eye. Killing some bad person does not make a right. We should not forget the unlucky ones who died even they did not do the crime.

    October 19, 2009 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  187. Sheila


    You are a prime example of why the death penalty should be abolished. Being put to death and later finding out that you were innocent is not something that can be fixed. Unless the system 100% full proof – no one should be put to death.

    Good Luck

    October 19, 2009 at 7:22 pm | Reply
  188. Alexander I Johnson

    John. Do not waste that money on an fancy lifestyle. Do not give it away to all your family memebrs and friends. Do not invest in their hare brained business deals. Buy yourself a humble house in another community or state, and a car that you like. Buy an annuity from a reputable firm, and if you have a skill of some sort you can start a small business to keep yourself busy while living off your annuity. DO NOT GIVE IT AWAY OR INVEST IN PEOPLE'S BUSINESSES !!!

    October 19, 2009 at 7:25 pm | Reply
  189. John

    It is my sincere beleif that there is no justice in America. It is JUST US. Prosecutors will go to any length to secure a conviction and the U.S. government will also hide the truth at any cost to keep its MORAL HIGH GROUND intact. Actually imoral hight ground. I have been there and know all about convictions that are imoral and incorrect. Glad you beat the odds . take good care .

    October 19, 2009 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  190. nora

    i just like to said thank you for figting for the forgoten on prisions, te sistem we had is not good and i never suport death penalty,God bless you

    October 19, 2009 at 7:33 pm | Reply
  191. DEAR

    did you ever think you might be going to heaven. since you knew you did nothing wrong.Did you receive Christ while in jail?

    October 19, 2009 at 7:40 pm | Reply
  192. Afonso Falcão Gomes

    Its unbelievable that most of the americans still favor death penalty in the XXI century. There's no right within reason that justifies such behaviour.
    Death penalty wasn't born in a rational argumentation, but on an emotional will to seek revenge or closure by retributing the suffering that was caused. Humanity is still facing dark periods due to the current leading power in the world (U.S) and the future (China) support such things.
    To support death penalty is to support ignorance and to aknowledge that we're not capable to reinvest in society and in humanity. To create and not destroy.
    In this case people shouldn't focus on taking care of the wrongfully incarcerated cases, but on the main problem; death penalty.
    How can you teach young citizens and children that killing is wrong when your state justifies such behaviour. How can you teach someone that the right to live is a human right?

    Is it ok to kill but only in certain cases? So when do we draw the line? Ridiculous. Maybe Obama will do something, but then again if he receives a Nobel prize for being himself, it will be better to hope for times of CHANGE, again.

    October 19, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Reply
  193. ola


    Did you have the so called right wing Media on your back when you were awarded the compensation?

    October 19, 2009 at 8:00 pm | Reply
  194. Belizean Me

    Besides the fact that as humans we must survive regardless of!!! how did you keep your head above water ? were there days that made you feel hopeless? if so how did you rebound and kept focus....Jah Bless!

    October 19, 2009 at 8:50 pm | Reply
  195. Jerry

    How many families were negatively affected by the drugs you sold? How many of those families were broken? Shouldn't you be held accountable?

    October 19, 2009 at 9:00 pm | Reply
  196. veronique

    Congratulations John ! I can't help that your conviction was
    biased by race...
    I wish you all the best and deem that your exoneration must
    be an exemple for other inmates wrongfully put on death
    Enjoy life and I send you all my best wishes

    October 19, 2009 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  197. IanAZ

    John, what would have been you’re last words?

    October 19, 2009 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  198. Jimm

    Shame on the judicial system! Practicaly, you lost your life! How could someone compensate this?

    Keep it all toghther!

    P.S.: How do I could contact you because we try to implement a project like what the Resurrection After Exoneration is trying to do in the US and need the know-how support?

    October 19, 2009 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  199. Marian Ryan

    Dear John,

    I am writing from Ibiza Spain.. how are you going to feel on the day that was supposed to have been the day of your execution?, and how are you and your family coping, I imagine besides being very happy there must be some anxiety too? I wish you and all your family all the happiness life can give to you lots of love and God Bless you

    October 19, 2009 at 9:21 pm | Reply
  200. Margaret Owen

    It is shocking and inhuman that a wonderful country like the US which is so advanced in many ways is so lagging behind on the issue of the the Death Penalty. How is it possible that still after so many wrong convictions that 37 states still have the death penalty? For Europeans it is incomprehensible that the US have still not understood that it is uncivilized and unjust to kill when one can never be sure whether the person is guilty or not.

    As former Amnesty International's former Director once said so succinctly : "just as we don't steal from the thief or rape the rapist – we ought not to kill the killer."

    When will the killing stop?

    October 19, 2009 at 9:27 pm | Reply
  201. Thomas

    What do you think of the death penalty as a legal punishment? Is there any crime, and a legal system to sentence a person for such a crime, that you think is acceptable?

    October 19, 2009 at 10:09 pm | Reply
  202. Alan

    After so many years in jail, you may have more pain with $14 million. After being caged for so long, how can so much freedom be good? From hamster to Rock + Roll hero. Take care!

    October 19, 2009 at 10:18 pm | Reply
  203. Jacinta De Paor

    I have long hated that cruel punishment of Death Row. To see other human beings baying for blood while the execution takes place is one of the most awful pictures that stays in my mind. I don't care what someone has done – we HAVE NO RIGHT TO KILL THEM. Why can't people see the awful contradiction in killing someone because they killed someone. And please don't make some God an excuse for doing this – you can relegate your 'eye for an eye' philosophy to the Dark Ages where it belongs.
    All of this is my way of saying I'm so glad someone somewhere finally heard you, John and that they followed through until you were exonerated.
    May you enjoy the rest of your life outside of that awful place of incarceration. Jacinta

    October 19, 2009 at 10:51 pm | Reply
  204. jose a.


    First of all I want to say that Im happy for you. Thank God you freed and showed the world that you were innocent. I always think that they are some innocent people still on death row who they were found guilty by prejudice. John the question I would like to ask you is.

    What did you felt when they finally knew that you were innocent? How did you felt when they never let you show that you were innocent?

    May god bless you>

    PS How can make a donation to your foundation?

    October 20, 2009 at 12:49 am | Reply
  205. Luke

    Quoting James W. Hawkins – 'Do you think that modern scientific evidence should be the most important factor in determining guilt or innocence?'

    As opposed to what, a gut feeling? Wake up.

    November 15, 2009 at 6:31 pm | Reply

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