Senators Support Steps to Reduce Wrongful Convictions in Illinois

Article excerpt

Byline: Kerry Lester Politics and Projects Writer

Two state senators from opposite sides of the aisle said they believe Illinois can and should take steps to reduce the number and cost of wrongful convictions in Illinois, but noted police and lawmakers often work to impede progress, despite their best intentions.

State Sen. John Millner, a Carol Stream Republican and longtime Elmhurst police chief, and Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat and former Cook County prosecutor, were panelists at a Chicago Urban League and Better Government Association forum on wrongful convictions Tuesday in Chicago.

Both men sit on the Illinois Senate's criminal law committee, with Raoul serving as chair and Millner as Republican spokesman.

The meeting stemmed from a seven-month study the Better Government Association released in July, which found 85 cases of wrongful conviction have cost Illinois taxpayers $214 million since 1976, with the bulk of the expenses occurring in the last 20 years.

The BGA study said in 95 percent of the cases examined, alleged government misconduct contributed to the wrongful convictions.

"It's about the training," Millner said. "Police officers want to get the bad guy off the street. …