Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Another view of the death penalty

Jeffrey Deskovic served 16 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. This week he wrote about his views on the death penalty in the Journal News.
The shootings last week involving state troopers, including a "friendly fire" fatality near Margaretville, N.Y., renewed talk of reviving the death penalty in New York. Here is another view.

When I was 16, a Peekskill High classmate was raped and murdered. The town was outraged. Police were under pressure to solve the crime. I was someone who kept to myself. Police questioned me for 7 1/2 hours in a precinct far from my home. They told me falsely that I failed a lie detector test. They said others would hurt me if I didn't confess. They said if I told them what happened, I could go home. I was alone. I was scared. My mother did not know where I was. So I told them what they wanted to hear, to make the interrogation end. Ultimately, I confessed to a crime I did not do. I was arrested for rape and murder.

Shortly after my arrest, a test showed my DNA did not match that found on the victim, Angela Correa. The Westchester district attorney, the late Carl Vergari, prosecuted me anyway, based on my confession alone. I ended up serving 16 years for crimes I did not commit. My final appeal - I was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison - to the U.S. Supreme Court ended in 1999. In death penalty cases, sentences are carried out after appeals are exhausted. My innocence was not proven until 2006, seven years after my last appeal was rejected.

The rest of article is here.