"I think what's important, though, is to understand that. Know that. Know it as a police officer, as an investigator, as attorneys," the detective replied.
"We need eyewitnesses. I mean, if we couldn't convict based on an eyewitness, that's giving a lot of comfort to criminals," Gary Wells said. "We have no choice. We have to find ways to make this evidence better."
And that's something Jennifer has tried to do ever since by telling her story to prosecutors, police, defense attorneys and she's had some success: her state, North Carolina, was the first in the country to mandate reforms by law, showing victims lineup photos one at a time and emphasizing that the right answer may be none of the above, having lineups conducted by a person who doesn't know who the suspect is, or not by a person at all.
One system now used in a handful of cities is computer software Mike Gauldin helped develop to have a laptop conduct photo lineups.
But law professor Rich Rosen says that in the vast majority of places, there's been no reform, and that needs to change. "This is something that police officers can and should be in favor of," he told Stahl.
"Because you're not getting the real guy off the street," Stahl remarked.
"Yeah," Rosen replied. "Bobby Poole raped other women because they went after Ron Cotton. So Ron is not the only person who suffered from this mistake."
Ronald Cotton, now 47 years old, has worked hard to rebuild his life. He works the late shift in a factory. He's been married for 12 years and has an 11-year-old daughter. They live in a house paid for with restitution money from the state of North Carolina: $10,000 for each of the 11 years he spent in prison.
When he can, he joins Thompson in her campaign for reforms. One of the most amazing things to have come out of this miscarriage of justice is the most unlikely of friendships.
Thompson and Cotton say they speak on the phone about once a week; their families are friends, and they say they have a shared bond that is hard for most people to fathom.
"Have people ever met you for the first time when you're together, and said, kind of cheerily, 'Hey, how did you two meet?'" Stahl asked.
"Yeah," Thompson replied. "We get it on the airplane a lot [when] we're traveling. And I usually just go, 'You tell them.'"
Asked what he says, Cotton told Stahl, "Me and Jennifer, we would look at each other and laugh, you know. And finally we go ahead [and tell them]."
And they have recently co-authored a book, called Picking Cotton, in hopes that their story can inform and inspire others.
"Today when you talk about or think about what happened to you that night when you were 22 years old, whose face is there?" Stahl asked.
"Nobody's," Thompson said. "That to me is one of the most beautiful things is I don't have a face. Bobby Poole's dead. I don't ever have to worry about him ever hurting another woman. He died in prison. And Ronald Cotton is my friend."
Produced by Shari Finkelstein