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In-Depth Interview: Jeff Deskovic Was Wrongfully Convicted, Found Innocent 16 Years Later

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In part 2 of our series on misconduct by investigators and prosecutors that lead to wrongful convictions, Jeffrey Deskovic shares his story of being convicted of a rape and murder he didn’t commit, and his 16-year struggle to prove his innocence.In our part 1 interview with Nina Morrison of the Innocence Project, we learned that Morrison represented Deskovic in winning full exoneration of his convictions.  PBC had learned of Deskovic’s case from this podcast, hosted by Lisa Rea of Restorative Justice International.

In this conversation, we recap the events that sent Deskovic to adult prison at the age of 17.  We focus on the inappropriate use of polygraph exams to extract a false confession from the teenager, and mention George Maschke’s work in exposing the truth about lie detector exams; get more info here.

We also discuss how the prosecutor persuaded the jury that Deskovic was guilty, despite the clear evidence that his DNA did not match the semen sample from the victim’s rape kit.

Deskovic gives moving commentary about his prison experience, made even more difficult by his knowledge of his innocence, leading to depression and suicidal thoughts.  Now in his third year of law school, he is determined to help people who’ve been wrongfully convicted.

He talks about his efforts to pass a new law in New York state, setting up a commission to review charges of misconduct by prosecutors; the bill still awaits the governor’s signature at this date.  You can get more information on Deskovic and his foundation here.