Report: Wrongful Convictions Cost Taxpayers A Fortune

CHICAGO (CBS) — Wrongful convictions not only cost prisoners their lives, but also cost taxpayers a fortune, according to a new investigation.

The Better Government Association and the Center on Wrongful Convictions have released a joint report on the cost of putting the wrong people behind bars. The results are stunning.

The report says since 1989, the wrongful convictions of 85 people have cost taxpayers $214 million.

It says the bulk of that — $156 million – went to settlements, or to pay judgments after lawsuits.

The report adds that 16 cases remain pending, so costs are going to increase.

The financial toll from wrongful convictions was tabulated by adding the cost of incarceration in prisons or jails, along with the compensation paid to the wrongful conducts, and civil litigation costs.

The study showed further that incarcerating the innocent was far cheaper than compensating them afterward, a news release said.

Meanwhile, while the wrong people were behind bars, the actual perpetrators of the crimes remained free to commit at least a collective 14 murders, 11 sexual assaults, 10 kidnappings and at least 59 other felonies, the news release said.

The report was written by John Conroy, a former reporter for the Chicago Reader who wrote the first stories about the Jon Burge police torture scandal and false confessions that resulted, and Rob Warden, a former legal affairs journalist now with the Center on Wrongful Convictions.

  • Bill Sola

    Over zealous prosecuters need to build better cases before indicting people. Drew Petersen is a perfect example. Throw them in jail and then try and put together a case.

  • Jack

    I would be willing to bet that John Burge put far, far more criminals in prison, than real innocents.

    • NWA

      You’re stupid! No wonder you call yourself “Jack.” Because, if that fool put one person in prison who didn’t commit the crime he should’ve been thrown off the police force and put in prison, but we all know that didn’t happen. He went to the poky for lying in court.


      • ChicagoCitizen

        @g-man, Right on, I never got it either.

      • ChicagoCitizen

        I agree, Burge should have told them to stick it. Oops, I meant he should have plead the fifth and kept his mouth shut. It was too late to address any brutality allegations. If he had kept quiet, he would be free today.

      • g-man

        He went to jail for lying about a crime that was never proven to have happened !!!!! That would be like you going to jail for robbing a bank that was not robbed—Makes sense don’t it !!!

  • Thank The Dumb Bells in Springfield !

    Will County is Going to Pay for Drew Peterson when he wins his Case !

    The Tax Payer’s are Going to Pay Drew Peterson when his Hear Say Trial is Over !

    • Ryan

      So true but prosecutors just want to make a name for themselves. They hope the accused will not have the money to pay for a good lawyer so they will be stuck with a court appointed one. Which usually equals a loss and there is your wrongful conviction. Peterson has a good lawyer so he will win and as you said the tax payer will be paying.

  • g-man

    Why not tell every one about the money that the Daley crime family and the Stroger crime family cost tax payers ??????

  • FR

    Over zealous prosecuters, over zealous cops and jurors who convicted based on words instead of hard evidence should pay, not the taxpayers.

  • iCheap Marketing & Desing

    Just because mistakes of our law enforcement agencies prisoners are spending their gold era of life in prison and state is just spending tax payers money in wrongful decisions!

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