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Recently Exonerated of Murdering Ex-Girlfriend, Adnan Syed Gets Job with Georgetown University Prison Reform Program

Adnan Syed leaving court on Sept. 19, 2022.

Adnan Syed leaving court on Sept. 19, 2022.

Adnan Syed, who was recently exonerated of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, got a job working for a prison reform program in Georgetown University.

“To go from prison to being a Georgetown student and then to actually be on campus on a pathway to work for Georgetown at the Prisons and Justice Initiative, it’s a full circle moment,” he said in a statement from the school. “PJI changed my life. It changed my family’s life. Hopefully I can have the same kind of impact on others.”

Syed will be working as a Program Associate for the Prisons and Justice initiative, an organization which “addresses the root causes and consequences of mass incarceration and offers educational programs and training for incarcerated individuals and returning citizens.” This is an office job in which he will be doing administrative duties and providing reentry support. Like others in the position, he has experience being in prison.

He was recently released after serving 23 years behind bars. Prosecutors with the Baltimore City State’s Attorney Office originally said that he, then age 17, strangled Lee, 18, to death and buried her in Baltimore’s Leakin Park in February 1999. Years later, working with public defenders, that same office dropped the case after getting Lee’s clothes and other evidence tested for “touch DNA.” That testing excluded Syed from a DNA mixture from Lee’s shoes, they said.

Syed has long insisted that he is innocent, and the podcast Serial revealed the existence of an alleged alibi witness who had been willing to testify for the defense. The 2014 podcast also raised questions about Syed’s defense attorney, M. Cristina Gutierrez, who had not contacted the potential witness. Gutierrez was disbarred in 2001 following complaints from other clients over her representation of them and allegations of missing trust account funds. She died in 2004.

It’s back to the proverbial square one for Lee’s family. Her brother Young Lee filed an appeal with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals after a court vacated Syed’s 2000 conviction.

“Whenever I think it’s over, and it’s ended, it always comes back,” Young Lee said over Zoom at the Sept. 19 hearing, according to The New York Times. “It’s killing me and killing my mother.”

Georgetown said that before his release, Syed was one of the 25 incarcerated students in their inaugural Bachelor of Liberal Arts program at the Patuxent Institution in Jessup, Maryland.

“It became this domino effect to see us be accepted,” Syed said. “It made it become something real in the eyes of others, that there are opportunities. There can be a sense of hope: a sense of hope that things can get better, a sense of hope that I can work hard and still achieve something, a sense of hope that I can still do something that my family will be proud of.”

“Adnan’s commitment to the program and to his education was clear from the moment he stepped into the classroom,” PJI director Marc Howard said. “We were thrilled to see him exonerated and then be able to welcome him to the Prisons and Justice Initiative. He is one of the most resilient and inspiring people I’ve ever met, and he has so much to offer our team and the other students in PJI programs.”

[Screenshot via Good Morning America]

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