Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Urban Studies


Planning and Urban Studies

Major Professor

Ward, Martha C.

Second Advisor

Ehrenreich, Jeffrey

Third Advisor

Gladstone, David


The term "exonerated"‖refers to a legal acquittal of a former conviction due to the introduction of new evidence. Since 1989, the number of legal xonerations has increased dramatically due to DNA and other new evidentiary technologies that can demonstrate innocence of formally convicted persons. This research focuses on the lived experience of exoneration and its aftermath through a life history of John Thompson (JT), a New Orleans native, convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1985. In 2003, after eighteen years in Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary, fourteen on death row, JT was exonerated. Exoneration theoretically removes the official stigma of conviction and restores full civil rights on former prisoners such as JT. Yet ―exonerees‖ face all the social, political, and personal problems that characterize the post-release experience of convicted felons. JT‘s experience is an important case of exonerees‘ quest for the restoration of standing, justice and compensation.


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