The following is an excerpt an opinion article published in The State Journal-Register on Sept. 25, 2022. It was written by Taryn Servaes, a recent UIS graduate who remains involved with the Illinois Innocence Project.
"When I was assigned my first case at the Illinois Innocence Project as a student at the University of Illinois Springfield, I had no idea I would see that client walk out of prison just a few years later.
Jennifer McMullan was 19 when she was wrongfully convicted of murder and attempted robbery in 2002 based on the “theory of accountability,” where a person can be found guilty of acts committed by others. I had just begun volunteering with IIP and was only 19 myself when we met. Jennifer had been wrongfully incarcerated for 17 years. I remember so vividly realizing she had been in prison for essentially my entire life.
It was a freezing day in central Illinois when I headed to Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln with two IIP attorneys. I was a sophomore and felt so fortunate to be included on a legal visit with a client. This was the type of experiential learning I had been searching for in my young career. IIP truly understands the value of bringing students on legal visits, introducing them to the legal and emotional complexities of wrongful conviction."