New report looks at the financial implications of wrongful convictions in the state

June 20, 2011

Produced by Eight Forty-Eight

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A new report finds that at least 85 wrongful convictions have cost Illinois taxpayers more than $200 million.

A wrongful conviction is a horrible cost to the person who goes to prison for a crime they did not commit. But they're also a huge burden for taxpayers. That’s according to a new report out from the Better Government Association and the Center on Wrongful Convictions.

According to the report "The High Costs of Wrongful Convictions", at least 85 people in Illinois have been wrongfully convicted of a violent crime over the past two decades. That’s cost taxpayers over $200 million. Meanwhile, the BGA says the people who actually committed these crimes continues their unlawful ways, committing at least 14 murders, 11 sexual assaults and 10 kidnappings.

John Conroy is a senior investigator with the Better Government Association, and he joined Eight Forty-Eight to explain more about the findings in the report.


More on wrongful convictions:
When Professor Alec Klein took over as director of the Medill Innocence Project, his instincts as a former Washington Post reporter kicked into gear. The Northwestern University professor teamed up with six undergraduate students and a private investigator to examine the case of convicted murderer Donald Watkins. His first-degree murder conviction never sat well with a veteran court reporter from the criminal courthouse at 26th and California. Based largely on her expressed concern, Klein and his team poured over public and medical records; they interviewed Watkins, experts, family members and witnesses. After a 10-week investigation, they uncovered information that raises questions about the conviction.

Eight Forty-Eight continued its conversation with the Medill Innocence Project, talking with students from the program. Klein was joined by seniors Jared Hoffman, Lara Takenaga, Taylor Soppe and Alex Campbell. Their classmates, seniors Caitlin Kearney and Monica Kim, were unable to participate in the discussion.