innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Friday, February 02, 2007

Innocent ex-inmate resumes college as a free man

This article appeared in the Lower Hudson Journal-News on January 24, 2007:

Innocent ex-inmate from Peekskill resumes college as free man

By Jonathan Bandler
THE JOURNAL NEWS

NEW YORK - Jeffrey Deskovic began classes today at Mercy College in Manhattan, resuming a college education that was cut short more than a decade ago while he was serving a prison sentence for a murder he did not commit.

"I'm moving forward with my life and today represents a major step in me doing that," Deskovic, 33, said before entering Prof. Martin Kelly's Classics course. "I want to fully immerse myself in the classes, get the best grades I can and use this education to make the most of my life."

This semester, he is taking two courses at the Manhattan campus and two online courses, and hopes to graduate from Mercy by next spring.

Deskovic went to prison in 1991 after he was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for murder. He had falsely confessed under exhaustive interrogation by detectives to the November 1989 slaying of 15-year-old Angela Correa, a classmate at Peekskill High School.

He was freed four months ago after DNA evidence linked another New York inmate, Steven Cunningham, to the slaying.

Deskovic got an associate's degree in prison and completed 90 credits towards a bachelor's degree in psychology before state funding dried up for college courses for inmates. He urged legislators to resume funding for such classes, suggesting that ex-convicts were less likely to reoffend once they get out of prison if they have a college degree.

He said this morning that he hoped to go on to law school and that his dream job would be to work for The Innocence Project, the clinic at Benjamin Cardozo Law School that helped free him and has exonerated more than 185 prisoners across the United States. Deskovic is also hoping to become a professional speaker to share his experiences and combat wrongful convictions.

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