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Farber Center at USD presents the exoneration of Damon Thibodeaux with ‘Lessons from Louisiana’

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership at the University of South Dakota, in cooperation with Political Science League and the Criminal Justice Club, welcomes Damon Thibodeaux and Steve Kaplan to campus for a program at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 1, in Farber Hall, which is located inside Old Main.

The program, “Lessons from Louisiana: The Damon Thibodeaux Story, Capital Punishment and Criminal Justice,” will explore the exoneration of Thibodeaux, who was incarcerated on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary for almost 15 years for a crime he didn't commit. Kaplan, senior counsel to the Minneapolis law firm of Fredrikson & Byron, P.A., was a member of Thibodeaux’s post-conviction legal team for a decade. The legal team also included the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana and the Innocence Project of New York.

Thibodeaux, who currently lives in Minneapolis, Minn., was released from prison on Sept. 28, 2012 following a comprehensive reinvestigation that included the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's Office. He is the 141st innocent death row inmate to be exonerated since the United States Supreme Court re-instated capital punishment in 1976. Thibodeaux also became the 300th person in the U.S. to be exonerated in whole or in part on the basis of DNA testing.

The only leadership program in the state – as well as the oldest and most well-established leadership program in the Midwest – the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership was established by the South Dakota Board of Regents in 1997 as a Center of Excellence. Housed within the Department of Political Science at USD, the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership annually hosts programs, Farber Forums, designed to students and the public insight into national and state politics, campaigns and elections, public administration and international relations. For more about this and other Farber Center events, please contact or visit the Farber Center on the Web at


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hanna DeLange
USD News