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Updates From Illinois Innocence Project

exonerees from the IL Innocence Project

The Illinois Innocence Project, based at the University of Illinois Springfield, has exonerated ten clients so far. They have over 2,000 prisoners seeking their services, and about 40 cases they are currently working on. The group has a limited staff plus volunteers who are largely comprised of students and lawyers working pro bono. Executive Director, John Hanlon, joined us to talk about recent developments and upcoming events. 

Hanlon says it's important to note that the non-profit deals strictly with what they call "actual innocence." Tune in to hear about that and much more:

In this interview, Hanlon tells us about recent news regarding a client charged with arson and murder. Per a press release:

Today a DuPage County judge vacated the 1997 conviction of William (Bill) Amor, a client of the Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield, and ordered a new trial in the arson murder case. The victory comes after a week-long post-conviction hearing was held the week of December 12, 2016, in DuPage County, where attorneys presented new arson-related scientific evidence in the 1995 Naperville arson case.

Hanlon talks about an online course on 'The Innocence Movement' that is free and open to the public. He also tells us about the Police Training Institute.

* Here's info on a free showing of "The Central Park Five" PBS Documentary, on Wednesday April 12th:


IIP, in partnership with WSEC/Network Knowledge and the Hoogland Center for the Arts, is hosting a special viewing of the award-winning Ken Burns documentary“The Central Park Five” on Wednesday, April 12, beginning at 5:00 p.m. at the Hoogland Center for the Arts.

The film tells the story of five black and Latino teens from Harlem who were convicted in 1989 of raping a 28-year-old white woman in New York City’s Central Park. DNA evidence and a confession by a serial rapist cleared the boys in 2002, after the five had spent as long as 13 years in prison.

Yusef Salaam, featured speaker at this year’s Defenders of the Innocent Event in April, was one of those boys. The film chronicles “The Central Park Jogger” case from his perspective and that of the other four teenagers whose lives were upended by a miscarriage of justice. Yusef’s mother, Sharonne, will join Yusef at the Defenders Event. Her tireles advocacy on behalf of her son and the other boys, stands as a reminder of the impact that wrongful convictions have on the family, especially when juveniles are involved.

This special viewing will begin at 5:00 p.m. in the Hoogland’s Club Room with hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar reception prior to the documentary start at 5:30 pm. Intermission will include a Q&A with IIP attorneys.

Seating is limited for this free showing. Reservations are recommended by contacting illinoisinnocenceproject@uis.edu or calling 494-0823.

* Also - the annual Defenders of Innocent Awards Banquet is coming up at the end of the month. Click here for more information. Guests include: 

  • Yusef Salaam, one of the “Central Park Five” exonerated by DNA after being wrongfully convicted for the brutal rape and assault of a woman who became known as the “Central Park Jogger” 
  • Sharonne Salaam, mother of Yusef, who fought tirelessly to prove her son’s innocence
Rachel Otwell of the Illinois Times is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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