Next Monday, NBC News Studios will debut its first-ever original podcast, Letters from Sing Sing, a new series investigating the case of Jon-Adrian “JJ” Velazquez, a man formerly imprisoned at Sing Sing for more than 23 years for a murder he says he didn’t commit.
The seven-episode series is hosted by longtime Dateline and NBC News investigative producer Dan Slepian as he takes listeners on a trip through Velazquez’s case – which began with a single letter Velazquez sent to Slepian in 2002. With the investigation spanning more than two decades, and with much of it recorded in real time, Slepian exposes breakdowns in the criminal justice system stretching beyond this particular case.
This isn’t Slepian’s first NBC News podcast nor is it his first foray into criminal justice system coverage. In addition to Letters from Sing Sing, Slepian is also the host of Dateline’s 13 Alibis podcast, and partnered with Lester Holt on the 2019 Dateline special Life Inside, where the duo embedded in Louisiana’s Angola prison, spending two days in a maximum-security facility jail cell and speaking with inmates to get a grasp of what life is really like for inmates and staffers alike.
Slepian’s reporting has led to a total of five convicted men (including Velazquez) being freed from prison after referring their cases to him throughout the years.
NBC News Studios launched in January 2020 as a production company specializing in documentary storytelling for platforms both inside and outside of NBCUniversal. Recent projects include: The Disappearance of Shere Hite, which premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival; Diamond Hands: The Legend of Wall Street Bets, which premiered at SXSW; Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11, which was presented at TIFF; and The Way I See It, in partnership with Focus Features, which debuted as the highest rated non-news program in MSNBC’s 25-year history and won the 2020 NY Film Critics Award for best documentary. Recently, NBC News Studios made its first foray into scripted series with NBC’s The Thing About Pam, in partnership with Blumhouse.