The long road towards exoneration | Bleader

The long road towards exoneration



Longtime Reader contributor Kari Lydersen co-wrote an outstanding piece for the Washington Post about how hard it is for the wrongfully convicted to be fully exonerated, throughout the country and particularly in Illinois (emphasis mine):

In Illinois, to regain a certifiably clean record and collect compensation -- a lump payment of $60,150 for five years or less in prison, or $120,300 for six to 14 years -- an exonerated inmate must obtain a "pardon based on innocence" from the governor. A 15-member state review board interviews the petitioners and makes a recommendation, but the governor is not obligated to make a decision.

"The governor is not acting on them," said Karen Daniel, senior staff lawyer with the Center on Wrongful Convictions, which is pressing Blagojevich to decide on Pollock's case and others. "In most of these cases, it's really not a hard decision. Sometimes there's still some controversy left after the conviction is thrown out, but in most of these cases there is no disagreement."

Tabitha Pollock was sent to prison after her boyfriend killed her daughter while Pollock was sleeping. She got a first-degree murder conviction because "prosecutors believed she should have known of the danger." She spent six years in prison before the state supreme court threw out the conviction, and she's spent the five years since "free," but technically still a felon, which means she can't be a teacher. For that, you need a pardon from the governor. Who is, of course, Rod Blagojevich. Eric Zorn explains how that works.

P.S. According to her Web site, Lydersen is working on a book about Pilsen, which is pretty exciting.