News 10.23.07

Alan Newton’s two-decade struggle for freedom

After being sentenced in 1985 to 40 years behind bars for a New York City rape he did not commit, Alan Newton continuously fought to clear his name. For eleven years he tried unsuccessfully to have the rape kit from his case tested for DNA. Finally, after the Innocence Project began to represent Newton, a final request for the evidence led to its discovery – in the exact place it should have been all along. DNA testing proved his innocence and he was released from prison, having spent 21 years behind bars.

Now a student at Medgar Evers College in New York, he often speaks to audiences about his struggle for freedom and problems plaguing the criminal justice system. Last night, he shared his story during a lecture at Wagner College.

For 12 years after (Newton) was in prison, he kept fighting his conviction, filing motions in state and federal courts to get the DNA evidence tested. Claims were made that the kit couldn’t be found, it had been misplaced or was presumed destroyed.

“All these different responses told me something wasn’t kosher,” said Newton. “It gave me the inspiration to keep the litigation going.”


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