A 35-page report issued today by Westchester County, New York DA Janet DiFiore identifies the factors contributing to Jeffrey Deskovic’s wrongful conviction and provides recommendations for reform. Deskovic was convicted of raping and murdering his high school classmate in 1990 based on a false confession that he later retracted. He spent over 15 years in prison before his exoneration in 2006.
The “Report on the Conviction of Jeffrey Deskovic” calls for access to forensic databases that can identify true perpetrators, creation of an Innocence Commission, recording of police interrogations, and proper storage and preservation of evidence. These measures could have prevented Deskovic’s wrongful conviction and enabled him to prove his innocence. In recent months, the State Legislature considered reforms that would address these same issues. The report underscores the need to pass this legislation and implement systemic reforms in New York State. When the legislature reconvenes on July 16, it will have another opportunity to pass the legislation.
Here is an excerpt of the report:
“One can imagine a situation in which police, prosecutors, defense counsel and the courts each discharged their functions in a perfectly appropriate way, yet the result achieved was calamitously wrong. One can imagine such a case, but Jeffrey Deskovic’s case is not such a case…we attempt to analyze what went wrong for Jeffrey Deskovic in the hope that a broader understanding of his tragedy will help those in the criminal justice system take the steps necessary to protect others from his fate."
Read the Innocence Project press release