NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Convicted and imprisoned of a rape and murder he didn't commit, Jeffrey Deskovic is using $1.5 million from his $6.5 million settlement award from Westchester County to start his own foundation help others who were in his situation.
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"This is an outward manifestation of my desire to make a difference, to make the 16 years I served in prison mean something," he said Friday. "What happened to me, it can happen to anybody."
Deskovic's foundation - the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice - is already working on the case of Richard DiGuglielmo - case a New York City cop convicted of murder, released on appeal, and then sent back to prison.
"I know at least ten people that came home from prison that were in the various prisons that my son has been transferred to over the years. It's just a tragedy and people need to stand up and do something," said DiGuglielmo's mother Rosemary.
In 1990, Deskovic was wrongfully convicted of the raping and killing Angela Correa, a classmate at Peekskill High School. The Westchester County District Attorney at that time was Jeanine Pirro.
Janet DiFiore took over as district attorney, and allowed a DNA test which led to Deskovic's exoneration.
"We're seeking to clear people who already have been wrongfully convicted, not simply in the DNA cases, which is what most of the organizations in the field limit themselves, but also non-DNA cases," said Deskovic.
Deskovic also hopes to help those those exonerated reintegrate into society, a task he said he has struggled with since he was released.
He is also seeking legislative changes in order to prevent people from being wrongfully convicted.
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