Prisoners who are exonerated in Illinois receive money from the state. But one organization says the state’s current budget situation isn’t living up to the promise.
Faith Hook knew she always wanted to be a lawyer.
“While I was taking this class I was like I want to get more involved, I love this.”
But after taking one unique class at the University of Illinois Springfield that dream became evident.
“So I started volunteering there and eventually interned and now I’m working part time,” said Hook.
Hook got involved in the Illinois innocence project. And her favorite part is helping those wrongfully convicted walk out free.
“But I was personally able to see Christopher Abernathy walk out and Teshome Campbell I’m just being there was very emotional.”
But when they do go free they leave out with much of nothing. The state is required to compensate them but the state budget has limited that process.
“They say that about 63,000 is the right amount that should be provided to people but we’re nowhere close to that in Illinois,” said Lauren Myerscough-Mueller.
Exonerees haven’t seen a penny in two years.
“Illinois does have compensation but it’s very minimal and max out at 220,000. So Angel Gonzalez one of our exonerees who spent 21 years in prison he’s getting about ten thousand a year,” said Myerscough-Mueller.
So there are efforts to change that in the state. The innocence project wants to make sure those free get what they deserve.
“To sign a pledge for meaningful compensation for exonerees,” said Myerscough-Mueller.
In total those wrongfully imprisoned in Illinois lost more than 18 hundred years of their lives.The Innocence Project is currently reviewing five new cases in hopes to help free them from prison.
The Project reviews more than 300 requests for help from Illinois inmates each year. Undergraduates at UIS, and law students from the state’s three public law schools, work alongside attorneys.
The program was in involved in the freeing of nine innocent individuals who were wrongfully imprisoned in Illinois.