Social scientists who have studied this issue estimate that between 4- 7% of the people in prison are innocent- that's between 100,000 and 150,000 people. In this episode Jason Flom talks to Amanda Knox, Jarrett Adams and Jeff Deskovic about what it's like for an innocent person who is forced to spend the holidays in prison.
Amanda Knox was convicted for the murder of a 21-year-old British exchange student, Meredith Kercher, who died from knife wounds in the apartment she shared with Knox in Perugia, Italy in 2007. Knox and her then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were both found guilty of killing Kercher, receiving 26- and 25-year prison sentences, respectively. Their convictions were subsequently overturned in 2011 and she was released from prison after serving four years. In early 2014, the Italian Supreme Court ruled that they should both stand trial again and she and Sollecito were re-convicted. Finally, in March 2015, the Italian Supreme Court overturned both murder convictions, ending their eight-year ordeal.
Jarrett Adams was 17-years-old when he was wrongfully convicted of sexually assaulting a young woman at UW-Whitewater in 1998. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison and spent close to a decade incarcerated before his conviction was reversed with the help of the
Wisconsin Innocence Project on the basis that trial counsel had been ineffective for failing to present the testimony of a critical witness. Mr. Adams graduated from Loyola Law School in May 2015 and joined the Innocence Projects litigation department as the first Post-Conviction Litigation Fellow in July 2016.
Jeffrey Deskovic was a 16-year-old high school sophomore when he was wrongfully convicted of the rape and murder of a high school classmate in 1991. Although hair and semen samples taken from the scene did not match Mr. Deskovics DNA, he aroused the suspicion of detectives by weeping openly at the victims funeral. After six hours of intense interrogation, Mr. Deskovic confessed to the crime, though he later contended in a lawsuit that police investigators had fed him the details of the killing and promised him that if he admitted guilt, he would not go to prison but would instead get psychiatric treatment. With the help of The Innocence Project, Mr. Deskovic was exonerated and released in 2006 after DNA analysis linked convict Stephen Cunningham to the crime and Cunningham confessed.