States Divided On Life-And-Death Questions

A Georgia board Monday denied condemned killer William Earl Lynd's clemency bid, paving the way for him to likely become the nation's first inmate put to death since the U.S. Supreme Court held that lethal injection is constitutional last month.

CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports 14 other executions are scheduled in the next six months across America.

And they all unnerve Kirk Bloodsworth, who in 1984 was charged with the unthinkable: the rape and murder of 9-year-old Dawn Hamilton.

Found guilty, Bloodworth was innocent. He says now, "It was pending doom. I knew this thing was going south in a hurry and I was on a freight train to death row."

He lost eight years of his life, as well as his mother, who was his biggest believer.

"I had to go to see her body in handcuffs and shackles for five minutes .. and go back to prison," he recalls through tears.

In 1993, Bloodsworth was freed, becoming the first death row inmate exonerated by DNA.

Wrongful convictions such as his are one reason why lawmakers in five states are seriously debating repealing capital punishment.

But five other states have moved in a very different direction -- passing laws that expanded death row to execute people convicted of a crime other than murder.

In particular, child rapists are being sought for inclusion. Louisiana has two of them on death row, both of whose victims lived.

The Supreme Court will soon decide whether these states can execute them.

Says Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, "For the very worst child rapists, juries should have before them as a permissible option the most serious punishment."

But no one wants to get it wrong.

Just last Friday, North Carolina freed Levon Jones, America's 129th exonerated death row inmate.

"Now I am not a mathematician, says Kirk Bloodsworth, "But that would give me pause."

The system that once had his number faces new life-and-death questions.