Prosecutors are under pressure to obtain convictions at any cost; it does not seem to matter much to them whether or not a suspect is guilty. Once prosecutors charge an individual, police seldom continue to look for other suspects and the prosecutors push ahead to try to convict in court. Often evidence arises during or after trial indicating that the individual may be innocent. Although prosecutors are mandated by law to disclose all evidence to the defense which would exonerate the suspect; they seem to regard their responsibility as a technicality and seldom do. Consequently there are many wrongly convicted individuals serving prison terms for crimes they did not commit, and their ranks are swelling rapidly in some states as the emphasis on convictions continue.

The article below points out that the number of apparent wrongful convictions is now being recognized in progressive states which are recognizing the need to begin to remedy the problem.  These states are taking steps to ensure that two things are available to defendants:  physical evidence in criminal cases and greater access to biological evidence and DNA testing to give them the chance to prove their innocence, and states are establishing “innocence” commissions to investigate allegations of wrongful conviction and help free those who are unjustly imprisoned.

Illinois knows the extent of it’s problems with wrongful convictions. As the article points out, IL has established a “commission” to study state wrongful convictions and make recommendations lawmakers, police, and courts. This is not enough.

Illinois is one of the leading states for wrongful convictions and presently, there are only a couple of privately operated “innocence projects” in Illinois from which inmates can attempt to obtain help in investigating their cases and proving their innocence once convicted. These innocence projects are woefully underfunded and understaffed, with few resources to investigate the mountains of applications from inmates they receive yearly, in comparison to the resources available to States Attorneys to help them convict anyone.

Like North Carolina, Illinois desperately needs to establish a state-operated investigative innocence commission; lawmakers need to make legal post-conviction DNA testing a right, and prosecutors need to stop opposing reasonable efforts of individual prisoners to prove their innocence.

States look to right wrong convictions

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