Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said this week that he does not intend to reopen thousands of cases handled by Central Park Five prosecutor Linda Fairstein.
Since the release of Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us, which details Fairstein’s botched investigation of the 1989 rape and assault of Trisha Meili, in which she wrongfully accused five teens of the crimes, New York City officials and activists have called on the DA to review cases prosecuted by Fairstein and called for the dismissal of Elizabeth Lederer, the prosecuting attorney directly involved with the case.
In response to a letter from city officials, Vance wrote, “I do not intend to take either action at this time. Instead, I seek your help in publicizing to New Yorkers the availability of my Office’s Conviction Integrity Program process.”
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New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams tweeted Monday, “Justice delayed is justice denied, but here, Cy Vance is even denying justice has been delayed.”
Despite his refusal to review Fairstein’s cases, Vance did agree that When They See Us has opened up new opportunities for justice, encouraging people to reach out to his office’s Conviction Integrity Program.
The Conviction Integrity Program reviews postconviction claims of innocence and assists in exonerating wrongfully convicted defendants. The program also hopes to prevent wrongful convictions.
Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, and Raymond Santana, all of whom were teens at the time, were eventually exonerated when the actual rapist confessed to the crimes. Still, they each served eight to 15 years in prison. In 2014, the men received a $41 million settlement from the city of New York.