36 Years In Prison Without A Trial Or Conviction

Terry Allen
Terry Allen was arrested for an alleged sexual assault in 1982. Rather than facing a criminal trial, he was civilly committed for treatment in a state prison. He’s been incarcerated for 36 years without a criminal conviction or release date. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
Terry Allen
Terry Allen was arrested for an alleged sexual assault in 1982. Rather than facing a criminal trial, he was civilly committed for treatment in a state prison. He’s been incarcerated for 36 years without a criminal conviction or release date. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

36 Years In Prison Without A Trial Or Conviction

Terry Allen has been incarcerated in an Illinois state prison since 1982. But he’s never been sentenced or convicted for his alleged crime.

Allen was put behind bars when he was 23, and because of the quirks of his case, and Illinois’ “Civil Commitment” law, he was deemed likely to commit a future sex crime and detained until he graduated from a treatment program.

But 36 years later, Allen is still in prison. Even after a failed appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, he currently has no release date.

WBEZ news producer Max Green tells Allen’s story in a radio documentary done in partnership with PBS Frontline. He joins the Morning Shift to further explain this mind-boggling story.

GUEST: Max Green, WBEZ news producer

LEARN MORE: 36 Years In An Illinois Prison Without a Conviction or Sentence

(WBEZ and PBS Frontline 3/7/19)