The OPIA Blog

Profile of an Exonerated Inmate

In its continuing series about inmates exonerated by DNA evidence, The New York Times profiles Jeffrey Mark Deskovic. Convicted at age 17 of the murder and rape of a high school classmate in New York, he was released in 2006, his conviction overturned. Now 34, he is struggling after prison, trying to put his life back together and doing what he can to stay afloat. He is on a scholarship at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY, earning a degree in behavioral sciences and studying for the Law School Admissions Test. He has bought his first car and paid rent for his first apartment. And while he relishes such little things which he has been denied for over half his life, he realizes how far behind he is.

“Sometimes,” Mr. Deskovic said one morning in his dorm room, “I feel that the only difference from here to prison is that I don’t have bars on my windows.” He was kneeling on his bed and staring at the neat lawn outside. “I’m free, but I’m trapped, and no matter how much I run, I’ll never make up for the lost time.”

He has also struggled to reconnect with his brother and mother. Being her son’s only link to the outside world for 15 years, a tension has built up between Mr. Deskovic and his mother. More importantly, though, Mr. Deskovic is focused on social justice, earning much of the money he lives on by speaking about his experiences at colleges and organizations across the state. These engagements provide him with much-needed cash, but they are also ways to conquer his social immaturity, being stunted during his time in prison. They are furthermore a medium to understand what has happened to him and perhaps prevent it from happening to others. Speaking before the League of Women Voters, he opens with a prayer and concludes by asking the women to get involved, “Can you make a phone call? Can you join a demonstration?” To read more about his experiences, please click here.