After Advocacy from Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice, Brooklyn DA Agrees to Sentence Reduction

Center Continues Fight for Sital's Full Exoneration

The Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice at Cardozo Law (PCLJ) is pleased to announce that Frans Sital, who has served over 30 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, has been released from prison after his sentence was reduced to time served.  


Frans Sital was only 17 years old when he was arrested and convicted of murder. Although he was likely innocent, based upon faulty forensic evidence and questionable witness identification, he was nevertheless sentenced to more than 51 years in prison. Mr. Sital's sentence was a de facto death sentence for the 17-year-old, now 49 years old. If not for the consent to reduce his sentence, Mr. Sital would have first seen the parole board on his 69th birthday.  


Fran Sital said, "I expected to die in prison. Words cannot describe my joy at being released after more than 30 years [of being] incarcerated. I am so grateful to all those who helped me over these years. It was a team effort that has led to my release and, with the help of the Perlmutter Center for [Legal] Justice, I hope that I will be exonerated. We need more and more people working to help others like me who tragically still remain behind bars for decades, innocent." 

Frans Sital walks out of the Elmira Correctional Facility.

Josh Dubin, Executive Director of PCLJ, said, "We are really thrilled that after years of advocacy on behalf of Frans Sital questioning his wrongful conviction, the Brooklyn District Attorney consented to reducing his half century sentence. He was just a boy when he was arrested and convicted of murder, a crime he is innocent of. His mother, Grace, spent all these decades fighting for her son's freedom, joining others who worked tirelessly to help Frans Sital gain his freedom."


Deputy Director Derrick Hamilton said, "It was heartbreaking to know that a young man was serving essentially a life without parole sentence for a crime he likely did not commit. At the same time, it was inspiring to all of us at PCLJ to join Frans' mom, Grace, in her struggle to bring attention to her son's plight and fight endlessly for his freedom. We are so pleased to have played a part in his quest for freedom."


According to a legal filing on behalf of Frans Sital seeking a sentence reduction, "Mr. Sital is well deserving of that second look. As shown by the numerous letters and emails attached to this motion, he has become a different person. He has educated himself and prepared for employment. He has helped to educate and assist other inmates through such programs as Exodus Transitional Services and CPPM. He has become a loving and supportive brother and son, acting as a role model and mainstay to his family even from prison. He has become a leader rather than a follower, and those who know him attest to his growth and maturity. He is exactly the kind of adolescent offender who merits the protection of the Constitutions of the United States and of this State."

Frans Sital, hugging his mother, Grace Sital, outside of the Elmira Correctional Facility.

Frans's mother, Grace Sital, said, "I am so happy that my son Frans has finally come home after 30 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Words cannot describe what these 30 years have been like waiting for this day. Thanks to the Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice, Josh Dubin, Derrick Hamilton and their incredible team, for standing beside me to fight for Frans' freedom. Thanks to Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez and his staff for agreeing to recommend the sentence modification so Frans was eligible for parole. I have waited a very long time for my son to come home."


In a hearing in May before Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Matthew D'Emic, District Attorney Eric Gonzalez consented to a sentence reduction of 25 years to life, enabling Mr. Sital to go before the New York State Parole Board to request that he be released for time served. He was finally released this week.


PCLJ wishes to thank Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and Jill Harris, Chief Policy Director for their decision to consent to the sentence modification for Frans Sital. Special thanks to Mr. Sital's other attorneys, David Crow, Nancy Ginzberg, Jonathan Edelstein and Robert Grossman.

About the Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice at Cardozo Law

The Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice at Cardozo Law is a multifaceted center established through a generous donation from The Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Foundation. The Perlmutters' philanthropy is focused on one clear and powerful goal: helping others.

The Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice has two components: a student field clinic called The Perlmutter Freedom Clinic at Cardozo Law, which focuses on fighting wrongful convictions based on the misuse of scientific evidence and work to obtain clemency for individuals unjustly incarcerated. 

Two fierce advocates are leading our efforts. At the helm, we have Executive Director Josh Dubin, one of the nation's preeminent civil rights attorneys and legal strategy consultants. Serving as Deputy Director is legal strategist and paralegal Derrick Hamilton, who was falsely imprisoned for over 20 years and won his own exoneration while helping fellow inmates with their cases.