We’ve all read stories about people who were freed from prison after DNA evidence exonorated them.
Jeffrey Deskovic is one of those cases.Â Convicted as a teenager for a murder he did not commit, even when evidence in the case should have tossed it out, Deskovic was released only after the Innocence Project took up his case. In being released from prison, the normal narrative (from the standpoint of the victim) goes something like this: “I’m not angry at all…I just knew that my faith in God would bring me through. I’m just going to get through the rest of my life without bitterness, because I feel like I’ve been given a second chance.”
Deskovic, refreshingly, broke out of that narrative:
Deskovic then walked outside and spoke to the media for nearly two hours, seemingly offering all the things he wanted to say when reporters were ignoring his pleas from prison.
“I’m not standing here before you because the system worked. Iâ€™m standing here in front of you despite the system,” he said.
He expressed resentment at police who forced him to falsely confess, a prosecutor who did not drop the case when DNA results suggested he should, jurors who ignored the forensic evidence and the judge who could have set aside the verdict but didn’t. And he remained frustrated by the years of failure at the appellate level that ended only after the Innocence Project took on his case.
“I hit a wall and became very depressed,” he said.
He was asked if he was angry.
“The people I considered to be friends all left me. Prison is isolating. My family has become strangers to me,” he said, adding that he lost the chance to marry a woman he loved. “I don’t need to answer. Just answer yourself. Would any of you be angry?”
To say “this isn’t right” does not begin to communicate the degree to which Deskovic had been wronged. And I don’t see a way to make him whole here. Given the role of the state in wrongfully prosecuting individuals like Deskovic I wonder if it’d be possible to get a line item in the national budget to go to the Innocence Project. This organization shouldn’t have to get donations in order to fix problems created by the state.