Dacajeweiah (John Hill) – Criminal Justice – CCR Docket 1978-1979

Efforts of Center attorneys and others have resulted in the freeing of Dacajeweiah, the last inmate remaining in prison as a result of events arising out of the 1971 Attica uprising.

In 1977, Governor Carey supposedly “closed the book” on Attica by commuting Dacajeweiah’s life sentence for the alleged murder of a prison guard during the 1971 Attica uprising. However, Dacajeweiah’s release date was left in the hands of the parole board which, because of massive legislative pressure, denied him release. This decision came after Dacajeweiah and his attorneys had been informed that his release was imminent, in line with the spirit of the Governor’s message pardoning every other indicted inmate and the one indicted state trooper because the evidence of crimes by the law enforcement personnel involved in the retaking of the prison had been hopelessly mismanaged.

A broad group of attorneys then undertook a variety of legal strategies in an effort to obtain his release. These included the direct appeal of his criminal conviction, the appeal of the parole board’s decision denying him parole, and a motion for a new trial.

This legal pressure combined with other efforts, resulted in Dacajeweiah’s release by the parole board this March. The appeal on the underlying murder conviction is still pending.

Michael Ratner, William Kunstler with Ramsey Clark, Elizabeth Fink, Michael Kennedy, Ed Koren, Jonathan Lubell, Mary O’Melveny, and Margaret Ratner