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October 8, 2019

John Bunn Was Imprisoned for a Crime He Didn’t Commit. Now He’s Sharing His Story.

In 1991, John Bunn, age 14, was framed by a detective and charged with the murder and attempted murder of two correctional officers in Brooklyn. He was given a one-day trial followed by 17 years in prison. During his term, he didn’t receive an education.

In 2018, Bunn was freed with the help of The Exoneration Initiative, a foundation dedicated to freeing the wrongfully convicted. He founded A Voice 4 the Unheard, a nonprofit committed to providing books to prisoners and underserved communities. The nonprofit has refurbished libraries, held book drives, empowered the youth with literature and more to promote the power of literacy.

On Wednesday, October 16, at 1:00 p.m., Bunn will present “Culture of Compassion: The Work of the Exonerated Mr. John Bunn” in Blodgett Hall, Room 109, to share his story and discuss how we can help. The Department of History will be furthering Bunn’s cause by hosting a book drive. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to donate.

Connecting Asian Mindfulness With Incarceration in the United States

Bunn’s story inspired Cristina Zaccarini, PhD, associate professor of history, to invite him to speak at Adelphi. This semester, Dr. Zaccarini has incorporated the stories of those who were incarcerated into her history courses and has framed the courses around the Koru system of mindfulness for emerging adults. This system of meditation assists students in gaining insight into their belief systems while understanding diverse perspectives in history and society. A common denominator that was evident in the Koru system and stories like Bunn’s was compassion for self and others. This motivated her students to think about how they could make a difference in the world and see common ground among seemingly disparate individuals.

“This past year, the writings, talks, and film work of formerly incarcerated individuals have played an invaluable part in my classes at Adelphi,” she added. “As a child, Mr. Bunn could not defend himself, yet he emerged, teaching himself to read, and succeeded in acquiring his exoneration.”

How You Can Make a Difference

Since his exoneration, Bunn has been using his story to spread awareness. He’s been featured by The New York Times, CNN, the New York Post, the New York Daily News and The Breakfast Club.

He believes that, too often, young men are put into prisons that are more crime-ridden and negative than the streets from which they came. “We are essentially telling our prisoners that we have given up on them; that they have to fend for themselves for the duration of their sentence. And once they have served their time, they must reintegrate into society with very little support or resources,” said Bunn.

“Our students want to make a difference,” said Dr. Zaccarini. “By reaching out to help Bunn in his efforts we are showing that we care about the existing lack of equity in our own society and that we can use our skills to make a difference that can have a ripple effect.”

For more information on Bunn’s mission, visit


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