In 2008, Professor Daniel Medwed published an article in the Iowa Law Review entitled the “Innocent Prisoner’s Dilemma: Consequences of Failing to Admit Guilt at Parole Hearings” that explores the conundrum that innocent prisoners face when confronting parole boards. Medwed found that innocent prisoners typically must either “admit” guilt to increase the odds of a favorable parole grant — and in the process hurt their chance for overturning their conviction through the courts — or maintain innocence and likely remain in prison. Since its publication, the Innocent Prisoner’s Dilemma has been cited in decisions by the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Washington Supreme Court, and was featured in a 2010 New York Times article.
Over the past three years, several prisoners confronting this dilemma have sought Professor Medwed’s assistance in addressing parole boards. Medwed recently intervened on behalf of Eric Jenkins, a New York state prisoner who claims innocence for a 1992 murder in Queens. Jenkins was granted parole last month, and is continuing his efforts to prove his innocence through the New York state courts. In his role as co-chair of the amicus committee of the national Innocence Network, Medwed also supervised the drafting of an amicus brief in Jenkins’s case by a team of attorneys from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in New York.