The Rape That Wasn't: The Wrongful Conviction of Jarrett Adams

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • John Maki Executive Director, John Howard Association of Illinois

If you know the history of racism in the United States, you'll be familiar with what happened to Jarrett Adams, an African American from the South Side of Chicago who in 1999 was wrongfully convicted of raping a white woman.

In The Rape That Wasn't: The Wrongful Conviction of Jarrett Adams, Jarrett and his lawyer from the Wisconsin Innocence Project, Keith Findley, describe his case and how he was ultimately exonerated in 2007.

While Jarrett's wrongful conviction is a riveting story, the real story, as he likes to say, is what he's doing now.

As he was fighting to prove his innocence in prison, Jarrett developed a passion for the law.

After he won his freedom, he went back to school and became an honor student. This spring, he will earn his Associate's Degree, and he's currently applying to universities so he can graduate with his Bachelor's in two more years.

Though Jarrett has excelled, it hasn't been easy. On December 24, 2009, he learned that the State of Wisconsin denied his request to be compensated for his wrongful conviction, which was money he would have used to pay for his education.

Today Jarrett is looking for work and shoveling snow to pay rent as he takes night classes.

"Even though my record is clear, I have an eight-year gap in my life," says Jarrett. "It's a hard thing to explain to employers. I've lost jobs because of this, I've had trouble getting jobs because of this."

But Jarrett remains focused on his ultimate goal of getting into law school and becoming a lawyer, so that he can, in his words, "defend against the same thing that got [him] convicted: not having a defense."