Yesterday, Illinois passed the nation’s strongest bill to prevent wrongful convictions based on false jailhouse informant testimony. Here are five facts you need to know about the new law:
- 1. Jailhouse informants are a major cause of wrongful convictions nationally, playing a role in 16 percent of DNA-based exonerations of innocent Americans.
- 2. In Illinois, unreliable jailhouse informants were involved in the conviction of 17 innocent people who collectively served over 227 years in prison, costing taxpayers $88.4 million in civil lawsuit payments and state compensation.
- 3. Illinois will be the first state in the country to require judges to hold pre-trial reliability hearings before jailhouse informant witness testimony is admissible in murder, sexual assault and arson cases.
- 4. The law will also require prosecutors to disclose key evidence regarding jailhouse informant witnesses to the defense, including benefits provided in exchange for testimony, their complete criminal history and their previous jailhouse informant activities.
- 5. Illinois will have the strongest law in the country to prevent wrongful convictions involving jailhouse informants. Texas passed a similar law in 2017 that requires tracking and disclosure of key impeachment evidence on jailhouse informants, but Illinois will be the only state with a required pre-trial reliability hearing before jailhouse informant testimony is admissible.
Read more about the law here.
In IL, unreliable jailhouse informants were involved in 17 wrongful convictions that have cost taxpayers $88.4 million in civil lawsuit payments and state compensation. https://t.co/oTzFtBQ4iZ pic.twitter.com/PcbkN3b15H
— Innocence Project (@innocence) November 27, 2018