Building Awareness of Wrongful Convictions
After completing the Wrongful Convictions course taught by Professor Gwen Jordan at the University of Illinois Springfield, Mike Schlosser, Director of the Police Training Institute contacted the staff of the Illinois Innocence Project. Mike believed that the recruits sent to PTI could benefit from hearing about the issues surrounding wrongful convictions. Already offering optional sessions concerning racial diversity and LGBT, Mike understood that recruits needed an opportunity to learn about wrongful convictions.
With increased emphasis nationwide on police reform, this unique opportunity for collaboration between an innocence project and police training was not lost on all involved. In a series of meetings over a two-year period many ideas and approaches were discussed. As part of the PTI curriculum, recruits are offered several optional sessions and this is the approach initially selected. The sessions on wrongful convictions serve several purposes:
- Awareness of statistical data on wrongful convictions
- Awareness of the reasons/causes of wrongful convictions, with an emphasis on police tactics
- Discussions of best practices for law enforcement to help prevent wrongful convictions
- Guest speaker to discuss personal encounter with police and incarceration
The programs have been presented by John Hanlon, IIP Executive Director, and Professor Gwen Jordan, Director of Legal Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield. Also presenting have been Jovan Mosley, wrongfully imprisoned for nearly six years; and Laura Caldwell, director of Life After Innocence, who wrote about Jovan’s case in her book, Long Way Home.
Evaluations have been extremely positive and the discussions with someone who has been so unjustly imprisoned have impressed recruits. These evaluations are critically reviewed and the Police Training Institute and Illinois Innocence Project are looking forward to improving and expanding this initiative.