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New York State Starts
Using Poker Playing Cards
to Solve Old Crimes

Playing cards depicting old crimes
known as cold cases with no leads
are distributed to prisoners in New
York state in the hopes that new
leads will be provided by the inmates
to help solve these crimes.
How do you solve a murder that happened years ago with absolutely no leads?

Corrections officials in the state of New York have begun handing out "cold case"
playing cards to prisoners to use in the hopes that someone, somewhere knows
something about the case. By providing poker playing cards with all of the facts of
each case, the hope is that the prisoners will discuss the cases and provide more
details and leads for the police to follow. Each playing card has a different cold case
file listed with the details of the crime. The prison officials are hoping that someone
who has been incarcerated will step up with more information pertaining to the case.

This playing card method of solving old crimes began in Florida state prisons and
they say the program is a success. The program in Florida has resulted in eight
arrests and one conviction since it began.

This ground breaking idea was started by the Lyalls whose daughter has been
missing for over 10 years with no breaks in the case. Using donations raised by the
Center for Hope charity, the Lyalls have now sent over 7,000 decks of these poker
cards to New York's local jails.

Most prisoners say that they like the idea themselves and believe the cards may
have some merit. Most jails have a high turn over rate and the number of criminals
processed through these facilities are staggering. The more people that read the
cards, the more likely someone, somewhere will have some information that was not
known prior.

This program is gaining in popularity and the hope is that many more states will
supply their prisoners with these decks of playing cards in the future. This is an
innovative idea with some merit, and the thought that even one old case can be
solved through these poker cards is enough to give the program a chance to
succeed. The response has been promising with over 40 to 50 calls coming in per

The only negative feedback has been from a small number of prisoners who find
these poker playing cards "disturbing" but over all, they have gained wide
acceptance throughout the prisons of Florida where the program was initially

The Lyalls know that the work, at times painful, is important. They are convinced that
some of the cases will be solved.

"The strength I find is the fact this is a missing part of my life, and I need to find my
daughter, and this is our job now. If you have no other job for the rest of your life
your job is to find that child that is missing," Mary Lyall said.
Cold Case Cards
State of New York to begin
handing out cold case
poker playing cards to
prisoners in the hopes that
some new leads are
provided to solve these old
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