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Reflections of a Dateline correspondent: 'Conviction'

Read this interview with NBC News' Luke Russert, who reports his first Dateline story 'Conviction' on Sunday, February 12th, at 7pm/6c.  You can also follow Luke on Twitter: @LukeRussert

Hi, my name is: Luke Russert

I’ve been a Dateline correspondent since: November of 2008. The first time I went to Sing-Sing prison to conduct an interview for the piece.

When I first came across this story, I thought:  Do I possess the ability to go to a prison, keep my composure and ask tough questions to a man convicted of murder?  After that, could I produce a work that would serve the audience well? It took me a few days but I thought I could do it and I believe I have.

Something I won’t forget about Sing Sing Prison:  It sits on one of the MOST beautiful areas of real estate in the entire tri-state area.  The prison sits on top of a hill where one can look out and see the Hudson river stretching for miles.  It almost seems like a resort should be there instead of a prison.

The most memorable words I heard:  When Jon-Adrian looks out at the Hudson from his cell window, he calls it “the sweet torture.”

The most admirable person I met along the way:  Captain Brereton who overseas Sing-Sing. Every inmate I encountered told me that Brereton was “tough, but fair.”  Brereton, although in a position of doling out discipline, clearly had empathy for prisoners at the appropriate times.  I found him to be an inspiration.

In a word, this is really a Dateline story about:  Justice.

How do I Dateline?:  On my iPad in-between train trips from DC to NYC to do this story!

Last but not least, in general, I wish:  This story makes our viewers think and care about those who may have been wrongfully convicted. 

Jon-Adrian Velazquez, convicted of murdering a retired NYPD officer in 1997, is serving 25 years to life in Sing Sing Correctional Facility.  But a 10-year Dateline investigation revisits all the key players, asking the question – is Velazquez actually innocent?  Luke Russert reports 'Conviction' on Sunday, February 12th, at 7pm/6c.