Illinois Innocence Project

Jennifer Linzer

Kristine Bunch was only 22 in 1996 when she was charged with the murder of her 3-year-old son, Anthony, who died in a house fire in Decatur County, Indiana. She was exonerated in 2012 after serving 17 years of a 60-year sentence. 

report cover of Illinois State Capitol Building
Jonathan Salmi

The 2018 UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership Annual Report is now available.  April 15, 2019, the annual convocation shared highlights from the past year of public policy practice and engagement from the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois. 

flickr/meeshpants

The co-founder of an Illinois prisoner advocacy group is calling for a statewide effort to investigate claims of innocence.

Community Voices:The Exoneree Band

Mar 22, 2019
Credit Dustin Franz for The New York Times

From spending wrongfully convicted time behind bars to spending time performing on stage, The Exoneree Band has more than music to give to the public. The Exoneree band is comprised of five men that spent a total of 92 years in prison. These men turn their situation to one where they can give back to their community and share their stories. 

More details at the Illinois Innocence Project.

Illinois Department of Corrections

Before leaving office, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner granted a pardon to a man wrongly convicted of attempted murder. What makes this clemency unique is that man, Grover Thompson, is now deceased.


The Illinois Innocence Project / via https://www.uis.edu/illinoisinnocenceproject/teshome-campbell-case/

Illinois lawmakers approved tighter restrictions on the use of jailhouse informants, overturning Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto. The legislation is meant to keep innocent people out of jail.


courtesy

When Making A Murderer was released by Netflix in late 2015, it made a ripple among the public at large. Many were swept up in the debate as to whether or not the film's subject, Wisconsin man Steven Avery, was guilty of the murder of Teresa Halbach.

Illinois Innocence Project

Criminal justice advocates say a measure that's cleared the Illinois legislature will keep innocent people from winding up in prison. Among other things, it would require criminal informants to be vetted before their testimony could be used at trial.


Center for State Policy and Leadership Annual Report Cover
UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership

The 2017 UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership Annual Report is now available.  In April, the annual convocation shared highlights from the past year of public policy practice and engagement from the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois. 

Read for a recap of some of the issues Illinois faced in 2017.

www.facebook.com/theIIP/

An Illinois man was found "not guilty” today for an arson case dating back to 1995. Bill Amor already spent 22 years in prison for a crime he says he didn’t commit.

John Hanlon, Illinois Innocence Project
Illinois Innocence Project

The Illinois Innocence Project, based at the University of Illinois Springfield, has won a $641,000 grant for DNA testing intended to help exonerate wrongfully convicted inmates. 

James Kluppelberg
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois is finally making good on some of its most overdue bills — compensating people who were unjustly imprisoned.

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. 

Rachel Otwell // bloodsworthaninnocentman.com

Tomorrow, October 4th, marks Wrongful Conviction Day. According to the creators - the purpose of the day is "to bring awareness to the need to prevent and remedy wrongful convictions around the world." It's being commemorated by the Illinois Innocence Project, based at the University of Illinois Springfield, with a documentary screening

flickr/sideonecincy

When a man or woman is wrongfully imprisoned, Illinois law says they're entitled to compensation. But like so many others owed money by state government, 14 innocent individuals are still waiting. This is one of their stories.

John Hanlon, Illinois Innocence Project
Illinois Innocence Project

This year, the Illinois Innocence Project is making its 15th anniversary. In January, the program helped win freedom for Teshome Campbell. He had been convicted of murdering James Shepherd in Champaign back in 1997, and spent more than 18 years in prison.

KenMayer/Flickr

DNA evidence remains a powerful tool to convict, but also to exonerate.

Today, we have the story of a man who spent 20 years in prison for a rape that DNA evidence later would prove he didn’t commit.

We also hear from a woman in a different case – she was raped and accidentally helped put the wrong man behind bars.

Il Dept. of Corrections

A suburban Chicago man who spent 20 years in prison for abduction and rape has been exonerated after DNA evidence indicated he was wrongfully convicted.  

Despite the decision Monday by Lake County prosecutors to drop the case against 41-year-old Angel Gonzalez of Waukegan, the man was not allowed to walk away from Dixon Correctional Center.  

Gonzalez attended the hearing in Lake County Court. But he was sent back to Dixon, where he still faces a three-year term for a late 1990's conviction of damaging state property at another prison. 

WUIS

Chris Abernathy walked out of an Illinois prison last week for the first time in nearly 30 years. 

The 48 year old had been serving time for the rape and murder of a 15 year old, Kristina Hickey. 

Abernathy's freedom came with the help of a group based at the University of Illinois Springfield.   The Illinois Innocence Project provided DNA testing that helped convince authorities to release Abernathy.

facebook.com/TheBrianBanksStory

 To date, over 300 people have been let out of prison before their sentences are up because of a group called The Innocence Project. Many of those people were exonerated because of advances in DNA evidence. In Springfield on Saturday, the Illinois Innocence Project hosts its 7th Defenders of the Innocent Awards Dinner. Brian Banks will be one of the key speakers. He knows first hand what it's like being in innocent and sent to prison anyway: 

Audrey Edmunds' case is one of the first of its kind taken on by the Innocence Project. Shaken Baby Syndrome affects infants who have been abused, though they often show no external injuries. Medical experts are becoming increasingly wary of the diagnosis - and some say thousands of cases have been misdiagnosed.