New Cook County task force investigates wrongful convictions

February 2, 2012

(Getty Images/File)
Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced Thursday the creation of a task force that will focus on investigating cases that have led to wrongful convictions. The staff of the new Conviction Integrity Unit includes three assistant state’s attorneys, two investigators and one witness specialist.

Recently several convictions have been overturned in Cook County including one case involving four men who spent 15 years in prison for rape and murder.

Alvarez said the Conviction Integrity Unit is a way of addressing prior wrongful convictions.

"In my view my job is not just about racking up convictions, it is about always seeking justice," Alvarez said. "Even if that measure of justice means that we must acknowledge mistakes of the past."

According to Alvarez, the unit will focus particularly on cases involving confessions with little or no supporting evidence and those involving juvenile defendants, among others. She says the unit has begun working on 35 cases in which the defendants claim they are innocent.