Floyd Bledsoe, wrongfully imprisoned for 15 years, pushes to end death penalty in Kansas

photo by: John Young

Floyd Bledsoe shares his story with audience members on Saturday evening at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 1234 Kentucky St. Bledsoe was exonerated and released from prison late last year after serving 15 years of a life sentence where he was wrongfully convicted of murder.

A man who spent more than 15 years wrongfully imprisoned for a rape and murder he did not commit shared his story in the basement of a Lawrence church on Saturday, now on a mission to encourage action against the death penalty in Kansas.

Floyd Bledsoe, 39, was released from prison in December 2015 after a judge overturned his 2000 murder conviction. He said prior to addressing the crowd of about 75 at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 1234 Kentucky St., that the court system is flawed, and asked what if his case had been a death penalty case?

photo by: John Young

Floyd Bledsoe sits in prayer with his eyes closed before sharing his story with audience members on Saturday evening at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 1234 Kentucky St. Bledsoe was exonerated and released from prison late last year after serving 15 years of a life sentence where he was wrongfully convicted of murder.

“Anytime you’re dealing with somebody’s life, once they’re executed, there’s no bringing them back. There’s no, ‘Hey, we’re gonna appeal this,'” Bledsoe said. “Once they’re dead, they’re dead.”

He said he wants people to understand he doesn’t want them to believe in change — he wants them to be the change, get personally involved and become a voice for those who can’t have one.

“I know what it’s like to be stuck and not have a way to communicate with the outside world,” he said, which is a big reason he’s taking the opportunity his situation has presented to speak out.

Bledsoe cited the Million Man March that thrust the civil rights movement of the 1960s forward.

“What if we get a million Kansans together saying, ‘Enough is enough; let’s stop the death penalty, because we’re unsure. One life is worth everything to us,'” he said.

He wants Kansas to be ahead of the curve on the death penalty issue.

“Why don’t we, instead of waiting until the end, like Kansas so notoriously does, why don’t we become a forerunner and say, ‘You know what? Enough is enough — let’s stop this now,” he said.