This seven-month investigation with the Center on Wrongful Convictions tracked exonerations in Illinois from 1989 through 2010 to determine the financial and human costs, and proposes several reforms.
The BGA/CWC investigation of 85 wrongful convictions revealed that it is far cheaper to incarcerate the innocent than to compensate them afterward. The cost of keeping them in jail and prison for 926 years came to $18.5 million. Litigation and compensation expenditures afterward were more than ten times that.
The BGA/CWC compiled a list of best practices already in place elsewhere in the country, proposals from blue-ribbon commissions, and recommendations made during previous reform efforts in Illinois, chosen because nearly all involve only minimal expense. This list should be considered as a starting point toward reducing the escalating human and financial toll of wrongful
Sourcing for the BGA/CWC investigation includes court documents, government records, interviews with the wrongfully convicted, their attorneys, and law enforcement officials, news articles, and responses to Freedom of Information Act requests.
Forty-two men lost more than a decade of their lives, and five lost a quarter century or close to it. Often they have emerged as exonerated relics, unfamiliar with cell phones, intimidated by computers, lepers in the marketplace and sometimes pariahs in their chosen neighborhoods. All have lost what most of us hold dear—contact with spouses, children, parents, and other