A new life on the outside.
The wrongfully convicted are released with nothing as well as no assistance from the state or federal government, receiving less assistance to those on parole, and typically face severe social, psychological and practical challenges in re-integrating into life outside prison. Typically, they are unfamiliar with changes in technology, and face extreme difficulty in obtaining gainful employment because of a combination of factors: lack work skills or experience, questions about their innocence, the stigma of having been in prison albeit wrongfully, and, depending on the individual circumstance, inability to work due to the psychological or emotional after-effect of wrongful imprisonment, or health problems either caused by or exacerbated by poor health care and conditions in prison.
Upon release, exonerees typically need: housing; clothing; emergency funds for food as well as recurring cost of living expenses; mental health services; funds for transportation; job training; job placement; training in everyday technology; a medical and dental examination, as well as someone to keep in regular contact with, assist them in navigating new processes, setting goals and outlining plans to accomplish them.
The public sees headlines about large civil damage awards for exonerees but fail to realize that it typically takes between 3-8 years for such cases to settle or be adjudicated and that in the meantime they must somehow survive between the time of release until receipt of compensation.
o fill the gap and help exonerees adjust to life outside prison, the Foundation currently leases a two-bedroom apartment to provide short-term housing, gives emergency funding, gives referrals where possible to potential employers and other agencies as well as therapists, and maintains regular contact with them. No other wrongful conviction organization provides housing or referrals to potential employers. Additionally, on an informal basis, and as an individual, at personal cost, Jeff Deskovic regularly organizes social outings with the exonerees.
We've already made a difference.
Although the Foundation is relatively young, it already has made a difference in the lives of the actually innocent.
William Lopez served 23 1/2 years in prison prior to being proven innocent by attorney's Richard Levitt and Yvonne Shivers in collaboration with The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice. Details of his story can be found here in our exoneration tab. Beyond helping to exonerate William, the Foundation also helped him reintegrate back
into society. The Foundation provided short-term housing for four months rent free in the apartment which the Foundation leases; transitioned him to his own apartment; gave him some emergency funding; and maintained regular contact with him. As an individual, Jeff also took William shopping for clothes; celebrated holidays and special occasions with him; frequently socialized with him; and introduced him to other exonerees and those empathetic to the cause.
In 1997, Eric Glisson was convicted of the robbery and murder of Baithe Diop, a livery driver for the New Harlem Car Service. In 2012, the Bronx D.A. dismissed the charges against Eric when it came to light that, during a 2003 federal investigation of a Bronx narcotics gang called Sex Money and Murder, two cooperating gang members named Jose Rodriguez and Gilbert Vega admitted they shot Diop. Eric had no connection to Rodriguez and Vega whatsoever. He had served 18 years in prison wrongfully.
The Foundation does not limit it's reintegrative assistance to exonerees to only those which it exonerates: services are open to all exonerees. One such example is Eric. Although The Foundation was not involved in exonerating Glisson, we did assist him in reintegrating, including housing at the apartment that the Foundation leases to provide short term housing, which enabled him to focus on completing a BA from Mercy College and then opening his own business, Fresh Take Juice Bar. The Foundation also assisted him with some emergency funding as well as a monthly metro card, while maintaining regular contact with him.
Additionally, our advocacy before parole boards helped free two prisoners. One was John Whitfield who served twenty-five years for a murder he did not commit.
3 Things You Can Do to End Police Killings and Fix the Criminal Justice System
December 10, 2014
Matthew Cooke and Adrian Grenier
We're doing a lot of talking. That's good. Now let's make them accountable.
Since the shooting of Mike Brown, more than 14 black teens have been killed by the police, including 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a boy in Cleveland, Ohio who was murdered less than two seconds after police arrived at a playground to answer a 911 call related to a black child carrying a pellet gun.
If you're a black teenager you're 21 times more likely to be shot by a police officer than if you're white. So we've been talking about racism.
Exonerated but not free: What do we owe the wrongfully convicted?
November 9, 2014 at 4:00 PM EST
The toll of the justice system on the wrongfully convicted
The toll of varied laws for compensation for the wrongfully convicted is examined.
In the US, state laws governing compensation for wrongfully convicted people vary significantly. While some states offer sizable packages for the exonerated, at least 20 offer nothing. And even for those that do, it may not be enough to make up for the emotional damage on those who've been wrongfully convicted. Hari Sreenivasan reports.
Chabad of the Shore
September 4, 2015
Chabad of the Shore, a Jewish community organization in Long Branch, NJ, hosted a dinner and invited Jeffrey Deskovic to be the guest speaker, followed by Q&A.
August 31, 2015
Jeffrey Deskovic was honored with being invited to speak at TEDxMartha's Vineyard along with other preeminent leaders, thinkers, and doers.
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, which now has given birth local, self-organized TEDx events on a global scale. TEDxMartha's Vineyard is a day of talks, performances, and community building on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts each August.