Justyna Cieślikowska

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March 2020 – For two weeks now, Europe and the world have been mired in a pandemic depression. Millions of people are locked up in their own homes. The only way out is a short walk … This global lockdown of 2020 may help us all understand at least for a moment what it means to be imprisoned through no fault of our own.

When I went to the Prison in Wołów for the first time in the summer of 2013 with the intention of taking pictures for the project, I had a completely different story in my head. My heroes were dangerous criminals sentenced to life imprisonment.

During the shooting, I met Jacek, who was sentenced to 25 years for brutal murder. Meeting him and his case resulted in a change of perspective and became the beginning of a completely different perspective on law and justice.

Jack’s case is one of many innocently accused

Often composed of deliberate or incorrect actions of investigators and prosecutors, incorrect analyzes of experts, omissions and negligence of judges. The geometry of these events led my heroes to a place that will remain a scratch on their humanity, and will never let some people shake off this nightmare.

They lost their good name, their families often broke up, and their lives were ruined in every dimension. Some of the stronger psyche have dealt with the isolation as best they can, and some may never recover from the trauma again. Some of them have won or are fighting for compensation, others do not have the strength and possibilities for it anymore.

Who is failing? System or specific people? Maybe there is no simple answer after all?

Each of these stories is like origami, with geometric accuracy put together by law enforcement agencies and the judiciary, assuming the form of a shape in advance, depriving each of the heroes of freedom.

It was not until I met my heroes that I realised what a great responsibility it is to be part of the justice system and that only people with the highest ethical standards should find their place in it. Perhaps this is
Perhaps it is a utopia, perhaps there will always be some black sheep, but it is an ideal to which one should aspire by verifying the individuals admitted to it.



15 years in prison – sentenced to life imprisonment for brutal murder, committed in 1999.

I meet Jacek in the fall of 2013 in a prison in Wołów while working on a photographic project about prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment.
Jacek, a criminal who was charged with brutal murder in the criminal world, told me that he did not commit the crime he was accused of.

Initially, I ignored this message. However, after Jacek’s sister contacted me and handed over the documents, I informed my lawyer friend about them so that he could check the case. After a month, the attorney called and told me there were indeed a lot of inconsistencies in this case. While the lawyer was working on the case, police officers from the Central Investigation Bureau, on the basis of admitting the guilt of another criminal and indicating the place where the body was hidden, found irrefutable evidence that Jacek Wach could not have committed this crime, because the body being the main evidence in the case is not the victim’s body. Jacek Wach was accused of murder. An unprecedented case. The court recognized the previous judgment as a mistake and ordered the trial to be repeated. Jacek was released from prison and after 6 years of free trial and in May 2020 he was acquitted of the murder charge. On June 28, 2021, the Court of Appeal quashed the sentence – as a result, the case will be reviewed again.

On December 23, 2022, another sentence was passed before the District Court in Olsztyn in the case of Jacek Wach. The court found the man guilty of participating – jointly and in agreement with other people – in causing the death of Tomasz S., his imprisonment and torture. The accused was sentenced to life imprisonment.The court admitted in its justification that there was no evidence directly confirming the man’s perpetration. However, he took into account the testimonies of witnesses, inspection reports and expert opinions

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