Wis. Man Exonerated After 10 Years in Prison Graduates From Law School

Jarrett Adams spent 10 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit. Last week he received his law degree from Loyola.

Jarrett Adams
Jarrett Adams YouTube screenshot

In 1996 a 17-year-old Jarrett Adams told his parents he was staying at a friend’s house. Adams and two friends ended up at a campus party at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater.

“I had no business being up there,” Adams told the Chicago Tribune. “It was [a] … recipe for disaster.”

The three friends ended up in the dorm of a woman they met at the party. She accused the three young men of rape.

Adams knew that he didn’t commit any crime; his lawyer told him the evidence was thin. But even with barely any witness testimony and no evidence to support his guilt, he was convicted and sentenced to 28 years in prison.

“When they said, ‘Guilty,’ it was shocking,” he told the Tribune. “It was a numbing experience.”

His days behind bars were filled with basketball and chess, until one day his cell mate challenged him to fight his case.

“He was like, ‘Sit down. I’m in here for the rest of my life for something I did do. You are here for some absolute bull crap with no evidence, and you’re not going to fight to get out,’ ” Adams told CBS 2 Chicago. “And so it really woke me up.”

With the help of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, Adams fought the case, and in 2006, after he’d spent 10 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, an appeals court threw out his conviction.

Since then Adams has been working hard to make up for lost time, and last week he received his law degree from Loyola.

“I couldn’t have imagined this day,” Adams told the news station.