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State Senate Committee To Discuss High Costs Of Wrongful Convictions

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Illinois State Capitol

Illinois State Capitol buillding in Springfield (AP Photo)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — An Illinois Senate committee holds hearings Monday on the high cost of wrongful convictions.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, the hearing was prompted by a new seven-month study conducted jointly by the Better Government Association and the Center on Wrongful Convictions.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

The study is entitled, “A Tale of Lives Lost, Tax Dollars Wasters, and Justice Denied.”

It finds that between 1989 and 2010, wrongful convictions have imprisoned 85 innocent people for a total of 926 years, cost Illinois taxpayers $214 million, and led to actual perpetrators going on a collective crime spree that included 14 murders, 11 rapes, 10 kidnappings and at least 62 other felonies.

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.

The BGA and the center on wrongful convictions conclude that the most common cause of innocent people being sent to prison, was government error and police misconduct.

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.

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