Authored by Jeffrey

The holdout Etan Patz juror deserves an ovation

New York Daily News
Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 5:00 AM
by Jeffrey Deskovic

Many New Yorkers are angry with Adam Sirois, the lone juror who refused to convict Pedro Hernandez in the murder of 6-year-old Etan Patz 36 years ago, leading to a mistrial. I would like to applaud Sirois for voting his conscience.

I spent 16 years in prison — from age 17 to 32 — after being wrongfully convicted of murder and rape in 1990. Then I was exonerated by DNA evidence that identified the actual perpetrator.

I wish there had been an Adam Sirois on my jury. Instead, when my jury was at 11-1, the lone holdout juror who had been fighting for my innocence caved in and switched his vote.

Years later, when I was exonerated, that juror called my lawyer and said he was glad to see me freed, because he never thought that I was guilty.

His decision to find me “guilty” despite not being convinced beyond a reasonable doubt cost me 16 years of my life.

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Christmas in jail is worse than you can imagine. Now imagine if you've been wrongfully convicted

The Guardian
December 25, 2014
Jeffrey Deskovic

I spent 16 years in prison, wrongfully convicted at age 17 of murder and rape, despite a negative DNA test. I lost all seven of my appeals, and I was turned down for parole. Finally, at age 32, I was exonerated after further DNA testing that identified the actual perpetrator. Even though I am happy to be spending my ninth straight holiday home free, my thoughts remain with those who are still imprisoned today, for the wrong reasons.

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A Man Wrongfully Incarcerated Becomes a Prison Reformer

The Good Men Project
December 19, 2014
by Jeffrey Deskovic

After spending 16 years wrongfully incarcerated, Jeffrey Deskovic could have re-entered society bitter and downtrodden. Instead, he began to exhaustively work to help others in his situation.

Here are ten ideas on prison reform.

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Recent Rash of Exonerations Only the Surface: Many More Remain Wrongfully Imprisoned

Huffington Post
December 9, 2014
Jeffrey Deskovic

Fernando Bermudez. Sami Leka. Jose Morales. Reuben Montalvo. Lazaro Burts. Kareen Bellamy. Anthony Ortiz. Frank Sterling. Roy Brown. Dennis Halstead. John Kogut. Eric Glisson. Jonathan Fleming.

Those are the names of 13 men that I personally knew and served time with who were exonerated either during my 16 years in prison or thereafter.

Last year there were 91 exonerations. This year there have been 90 thus far. To date there have been 1482 exonerations overall, only 321 of them being DNA related. Since taking office this past January, Brooklyn DA Thompson's conviction integrity unit has exonerated 11 people.

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Why I Speak Out About Wrongful Convictions

THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
Thursday, August 12, 2010
By Jeffrey Deskovic

As readers of the Guardian know, I served sixteen years in prison in New York for a murder and rape I did not commit. I was conclusively exonerated four years ago. The real perpetrator, Steven Cunningham, confessed to the crime after crime scene DNA matched him, not me.

Police and prosecutors knew the DNA was not mine. Yet, they fought tooth and nail to keep me in prison.

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Creation Of A National Institute Of Forensic Sciences Is Critical

Thursday, September 17, 2009
Westchester Guardian/Jeff Deskovic.
Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jeffrey Deskovic

On September 3, 2009, a story appeared in the Daily News regarding Dwight Gomas, who had spent 17 months in Rikers Island in New York for robbery before it came to light that the fingerprints which formed the basis for his arrest did not, in fact, match him.

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Sonia Sotomayor's 'empathy' isn't all it's cracked up to be

By JEFFREY DESKOVIC | 6/15/09 6:18 AM EST
Politico.com

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, who grew up poor in the South Bronx, has worked hard to get where she is.

In a career that took her from a Bronx housing project to Princeton University, Yale Law School, various jobs and now the federal bench, she has said that she tries to keep in mind the real-life implications of her rulings when meting out justice. Such a high-minded moral standard is what we, as a society, should expect and seek from all our judges, especially a Supreme Court justice. But considering that we are talking about a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court, we should see if, in practice, her rulings reflect that.

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I Spent 16 Years in Jail for a Crime I Didn't Commit. Here's What Should Be Done.

By JEFFREY DESKOVIC | 9/18/08
AlterNet

I went to jail as a teenager for a rape and murder I didn't commit. Here are the reforms necessary to make sure it does not happen again.

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Chicago Man Exonerated After 11 ½ Years In Prison

Chicago Man Exonerated After 11 ½ Years In Prison
Many Reforms To Prevent Wrongful Convictions Countrywide Are Still Needed

THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
THURSDAY, JUNE 26, 2008
by Jeffrey Deskovic


On May 27, 2008, Dean Cage was released following 11½ years in prison for a rape that DNA proved he was innocent of. Th e Innocence Project issued the following press release:
“DNA tests prove that Dean Cage did not commit a 1994 Chicago rape for which he was wrongfully convicted, according to the Innocence Project, which represents him. Cage, who was convicted in 1996 and sentenced to 40 years in prison, was released from prison late last night.

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A Clarification Of Assemblywoman Amy Paulin’s Proposed Legislation

A Clarification Of Assemblywoman
Amy Paulin’s Proposed Legislation

THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
THURSDAY, JUNE 19, 2008
By Jeff Deskovic

In the June 5th, 2008 issue of The Guardian, a press release appeared regarding legislation that Assemblywoman Amy Paulin had sponsored that would result in school employees, who had been found guilty of sex crimes or  financial felonies, would be “terminated immediately.” Additionally, certification or licensing of these school officials would be “automatically revoked.” Present law provides that even a er being convicted of a felony, which renders the employee unfit to work in a school, employees who hold state certifications are entitled to what is known as a Part 38 hearing to determine whether they should keep their certification.

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Advocating For Prisoner Re-Entry Issues And Prison Conditions

Advocating For Prisoner Re-Entry
Issues And Prison Conditions

THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
THURSDAY, JUNE 12, 2008
By Jeffrey Deskovic

 The Community Service Society (CSS) is an organization with a 160-year history representing the needs of low income New Yorkers.  eir mission statement states the following, “We recognize the challenges facing residents who return to their families and communities after periods of incarceration. Most striking is the concentration of this population in a handful of neighborhoods in the city. As the rate of incarcerations has increased and recidivism has undermined family stability, it has become clear that these individuals and their families fall within the universe of New Yorkers whose life chances are limited by their lack of economic opportunity and political voice. As a result of our research, we initiated a series of roundtables called the New York Reentry Roundtable, which resulted in a successful Reentry Advocacy Day in May 2007. CSS recognizes the importance of playing a more direct role in challenging systematic barriers to civic participation facing formerly incarcerated persons.

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Wrongful Convictions Just Keep Coming Out, Part II

Wrongful Convictions Just Keep Coming Out, Part II

THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 2008

Several issues ago, I wrote an article entitled “Wrongful Convictions Just Keep Coming Out.” In this issue, I will do a follow-up to that article, further illustrating that theme, with the purpose in mind of trying to raise the awareness of society to the problem of wrongful convictions. People will come to realize, with each passing instance, that wrongful convictions are not rare, that this really can happen to anyone, and does. Furthermore, there is no geographical location which is immune from it happening.  e thought “ at could never happen here”, or “ at could never happen to me”, are unfortunately myths that we as a society cannot a ord to have.

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New York State Should Pass A Standardized Evidence Preservation Law

New York State Should Pass A Standardized Evidence Preservation Law

THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
THURSDAY, MAY 29, 2008
By Jeffrey Deskovic

Many states, including New York, lack a standardized evidence preservation law which would require authorities to preserve evidence.  us, for the wrongfully convicted, the  First obstacle to proving innocence, if they are lucky enough that there is even DNA to test in their case, is whether or not the evidence has been preserved, or if it has been lost or destroyed. If it has been destroyed, then the wrongfully accused remains in prison, unable to prove his innocence, and with no legal remedy. Recently, Colorado’s Gov. Bill Ritter signed a law mandating evidence preservation.

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An Emotional Night At  The Innocence Project’s Second Annual Gala Dinner

An Emotional Night At  The Innocence Project’s Second Annual Gala Dinner

THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
THURSDAY, MAY 22, 2008

By Jeffrey Deskovic

On May 7, 2008,  The Innocence Project held its second annual fundraising Gala Dinner. The Innocence Project is a not-for-profit organization that works to exonerate wrongfully convicted prisoners in those cases in which DNA testing can prove innocence. They also work towards bringing about legislative changes to prevent wrongful convictions in the first place. There have been 215 people across the country who have been exonerated through DNA evidence. Over 150 of those cases were personally worked on by  The Innocence Project.

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U.S. Supreme Court Continues To Make Rulings Inconsistent With Basic Human Rights, Decency, And Justice Part II

U.S. Supreme Court Continues To Make
Rulings Inconsistent With Basic Human
Rights, Decency, And Justice
Part II

THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
THURSDAY, MAY 15, 2008
By Jeff Deskovic
Continuing on last week’s theme, the United States Supreme Court made yet another ruling inconsistent with human dignity and rights, and simple justice. The Court, on April 14, refused to accept an appeal from a 12-year-old boy who had been sentenced to 30 years without parole, whose argument was that his sentence amounted to “cruel and unusual punishment.”

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US Supreme Court Rulings Inconsistent With Human Rights, Decency & Justice, Part 1

U.S. Supreme Court Continues To Make
Rulings Inconsistent With Basic Human
Rights, Decency, And Justice
Part 1
THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
THURSDAY, MAY 8, 2008

By Jeff Deskovic
As I wrote a few weeks ago in a two part series, the entire appellate process, beginning with the state court system all the way through the federal courts, is woefully inadequate to protect the wrongfully convicted. A portion of that article dealt with the fact that the United States Supreme Court routinely does not do ensure that justice is done in each case, either because of rulings that are inconsistent with justice, fairness, and basic human rights, or, more usually, by simply ducking the responsibility to rule on issues at all merely declining to hear cases. On April 17, 2008, it once again fell short of living up to it’s awesome responsibility.
Constitutionality Of Lethal Injection

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Wrongful Convictions Just Keep Coming Out

Wrongful Convictions Just Keep Coming Out
THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
THURSDAY, MAY 1, 2008

By Jeffrey Deskovic

Over the last few weeks there have been a rash of wrongful convictions that have been exposed as such. They all should serve as a wakeup call and reminder to us all that the criminal justice system is broken, and that at any given time anybody could be arrested for a crime that they are innocent of and find themselves wrongfully convicted, locked away for decades, or maybe even sentenced to death before the wrongful conviction has been discovered. Although these case have happened in different states, the same systemic deficiencies that cause them exist in every state. And, yes, it can, and does, happen in New York.

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The Appeals Process Is Woefully Insufficient To Protect The Innocent - Part II

The Appeals Process Is Woefully Insufficient To Protect The Innocent - Part II
THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 2008

By Jeff Deskovic

In my last article I outlined the deficiencies in the State Court System in protecting the innocent. In this article, I will go into the Federal Court System. After a defendant has been denied by their state’s highest court, they are no longer entitled to a lawyer if they cannot afford one.
The Problem With Not Having An
Attorney In Federal Court

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The Appeals Process Is Woefully Insufficient To Protect The Innocent - Part 1

The Appeals Process Is Woefully Insufficient To Protect The Innocent - Part 1
THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2008

By Jeff Deskovic

Introduction
As many people are aware, I served 16 years in prison before being proven innocent by DNA. During that ordeal, in an effort to try to correct the injustice that was occurring to me, I was forced to gain an understanding of the processes involved in post-conviction court proceedings. My survival instinct would not allow me to simply sit back and permit lawyers to work on my behalf while doing nothing. Instead I learned as much as I could.

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 The Innocence Conference Network Meeting 2008

The Innocence Conference Network Meeting 2008
THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2008

By Jeff Deskovic

 There is a group of approximately forty organizations across the country which are dedicated to freeing the wrongfully convicted. Many of their names contain the words “Innocence Project”, along with an adjective describing their geography, although some do not. Examples are “ The California Innocence Project” and “ The Georgia Innocence Project”.  The granddaddy of them all is the organization located in Manhattan, co-founded by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, known merely as  e Innocence Project.

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Appellate Division Rubber Stamp Denies Nowicki Appeal; Nowicki Family Remains Devastated By Wrongful Conviction

Appellate Division Rubber Stamp Denies
Nowicki Appeal; Nowicki Family Remains
Devastated By Wrongful Conviction

THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
THURSDAY, APRIL 3, 2008

By Jeff Deskovic
In an issue of this newspaper some weeks ago, I wrote about the Steven Nowicki case. Nowicki, a former schoolteacher in Westchester, had been convicted of four counts of Sodomy In The First Degree, sixteen counts of Sexual Abuse In  e First Degree, and two counts of Endangering  e Welfare Of A Child. He was sentenced to 16 years in state prison.

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Jeffrey Deskovic Goes Back To Prison

THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN

Thursday, March 27, 2008
By Jeff Deskovic

As most readers know, I was released from prison about 15 months ago after a 16-year prison term for a crime which DNA proved that I was innocent of. Much of my time since then has been spent raising public awareness of the problem of wrongful convictions, prosecutorial misconduct, and systemic failures and cracks which lead innocent people to be wrongfully convicted. I have attempted to accomplish this by giving lectures at colleges, high schools,churches, and other community organizations, and also by giving many television, radio, and print interviews.

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Bullet Lead Analysis: A Junk Science  at Has Helped To Convict  Thousands

Bullet Lead Analysis: A Junk Science  at Has Helped To Convict  Thousands
THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
THURSDAY, MARCH 20, 2008
By Jeff Deskovic

Background
Bullet Lead Analysis is a junk science that has been used to convict thousands of people. It has been defined by expert William Tobin as “a nuclear technology that measures the composition of bullet lead by quantifying the percentages of other metals associated with lead bullets, chiefly antimony, arsenic and copper.” It has been used in thousands of criminal investigations, and o ered as “scientic evidence” in many hundreds, probably thousands, of cases over the past few decades.

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Brewer And Brooks: Update

Brewer And Brooks: Update
THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
THURSDAY, MARCH 6, 2008
By Jeff Deskovic

As I previously reported a few weeks ago in Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks: Prosecutorial Misconduct and Junk Science Leads To Death Sentence, Many Years In Prison, In Two Mississippi Cases, it was expected that Brewer and Brooks would be cleared and emerging from Mississippi State Prison on Feb 15th, 2008.

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The Frank Sterling Story: Another Outrageous Injustice

The Frank Sterling Story:
Another Outrageous Injustice
THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2008

By Jeff Deskovic
On Nov 29, 1988 Viola Manville was killed as she walked along a path in Rochester, New York. The cuts on her hands indicated that she fought with her attacker; and the attacker beat her viciously on the head and shot her with a BB gun. Four years later Frank Sterling was arrested and convicted of her murder, and sentenced to 25-Years-to-Life in prison

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The Rockefeller Drug Laws Should Be Repealed

The Rockefeller Drug Laws Should Be Repealed

THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
Thursday, February 7, 2008
By Jeff Deskovic

The Rockefeller Drug Law is the term used to refer to the statutes dealing with the sale and possession of narcotic drugs in the New York State Penal Code. The statutes are named for Nelson Rockefeller, who was the state’s governor at the time they were enacted. The bill was signed into law on May 8, 1973. Under the Rockefeller law, the penalty for possessing four ounces, or more, of the same narcotic substance was a mandatory minimum of 15 years to life, and a maximum of 25 years to life in prison. The same penalty applied to those found to have sold two ounces or more of heroin, morphine, opium, cocaine, or marijuana.

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Reintegration Into Society Is Most Often Difficult

Reintegration Into Society Is Most Often Difficult

THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN
Thursday, February 4, 2008
By Jeff Deskovic

Reintegration into society following imprisonment, whether one was in prison wrongfully, as I was, or as the result of having committed a crime, is a very difficult experience. As many are aware, I was incarcerated for 16 years for a crime I was proven innocent of by DNA

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