Founding Director Larry Golden
He moved to Springfield, Illinois in 1970 to help found Sangamon State, now the University of Illinois at Springfield. He used his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota to teach courses on civil rights and liberties, and law, inequality, and justice. Larry’s life and career have been dedicated to teaching and activism around these issues. In the late 1970’s, he assisted in a law suit desegregating the schools of Springfield. In the mid-1980’s he was a major organizer of a successful civil rights law suit challenging the form of local government in Springfield.
In 2001 he helped found what was then the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, since becoming the Illinois Innocence Project.
While working with the Project he assisted in the exonerations of Keith Harris, falsely imprisoned for 22 years and Julie Rea Harper, falsely convicted of killing her 10 year old son Joel and found not guilty in a new trial in summer, 2006. After thirty-four years, Larry retired in 2004 from full time teaching in part to spend more time volunteering with the Illinois Innocence Project. In addition he continues to teach a course on conviction of the innocent and to speak in a variety of venues about the problem of wrongful conviction and the work that is occurring across the country to free the innocent.
Larry is active in the national innocence movement. Larry has been a member of the Executive Board of the National Innocence Network, the organization of over 50 projects around the country working on behalf of the innocent and is an active participant in the network’s work.