Illinois has the most criminal exonerations in the nation

If you hear of someone being exonerated of a crime last year, the odds are high that it happened in Illinois.

According to the Exoneration Registry, 2018 was a record year for the exoneration of defendants who suffered from wrongful convictions and official misconduct. There were at least 107 acts of official misconduct -- many of them connected to the scandal in Cook County involving a police sergeant and a crew of fellow of officers.

The Chicago tactical team outright invented drug cases and manufactured evidence against people in the Ida B. Wells housing project who couldn't afford to pay the extortion money they wanted. Anyone who didn't or couldn't pay up found themselves facing felony drug charges with planted evidence. A total of 31 defendants were ultimately exonerated based on those circumstances alone in 2018 -- but that doesn't account for all the Illinois cases of wrongful conviction by far.

2018 saw 151 total exonerations of the wrongfully convicted throughout the nation. A total of 49 of those defendants were in Illinois -- which means almost one-third of the exonerations were tied to that state. The number is expected to continue rising as more cases tied to the Cook County scandal are examined. The first exonerations related to it occurred in 2017, and more are expected to occur this year.

Harris County is another major area for wrongful convictions. However, while the wrongful convictions in Cook County were due to deliberate police misconduct, those in Harris County were related to drug tests that were incorrectly labeled as positive. It's estimated that hundreds of innocent people pleaded guilty to drug possession.

The average individual who is wrongfully convicted spends just under 11 years in jail. Coercion, false arrest, planted evidence and lying under oath are unjustifiable actions by officers of the law. If you or your loved one has fallen victim to police misconduct, find out more about your legal options, and your ability to fight back today.

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