The “Downstate Illinois Innocence Project” at the University of Illinois at Springfield was founded in 2001. Using students in the Legal Studies Program, the Project focused on assisting in the investigation of a case or two where individuals who were actually innocent of a serious (usually life or death sentences) crimes for which they were convicted. The Project assisted attorneys in three cases during the next 10 years. In 2011, with the help of federal grant money, the Project hired its first attorney and began providing direct representation to help individuals prove their innocence. With the ability to represent individuals throughout the state, the Project changed its name to “The Illinois Innocence Project” in 2012. Since then, IIP has participated in 5 additional exonerations, the latest being Angel Gonzalez, who spent 21 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
The staff who work on these cases are committed to remedying the injustice of wrongful convictions:
John J. Hanlon
Executive Director and Legal Director