Students mark wrongful convictions

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND)- More than 2,000 tiny black and blue flags stood in the ground at the University of Illinois Springfield Tuesday in honor of the 2,271 people exonerated of crimes for which they had been convicted.

Of those, 237 flags were blue, marking the number of people exonerated in Illinois since 1989.

Students working with the Illinois Innocence project put up the display to mark Wrongful Conviction Day.

Illinois Innocence Project staff attorney Lauren Myerscough-Muller said several factors contribute to wrongful convictions.

“The number one (cause) that we see is eyewitness misidentification,” Myerscough-Muller said. “There’s also false confessions, faulty forensics. There’s government misconduct, and these are things that we’ve really been able to determine thanks to DNA.”

Myerscough-Muller said the Illinois Innocence Project is pushing for measures to prevent wrongful convictions.

“Now we are fighting to implement a bill on jailhouse snitches,” she said. “It would require the judge look to see whether the person has been an informant before, whether their testimony has any sort of credibility, they would have to determine if the informant is receiving anything in return.”

That bill passed the General Assembly but was vetoed by the governor, Myerscough-Muller said. 

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