News 01.18.17

Illinois Historic Budget Impasse Continues to Hinder Exonerees

By Innocence Staff

Angel Gonzalez, who was exonerated in Illinois in 2015 of rape based on DNA evidence. He is one of the exonerees who has yet to be compensated by the state for the 20 years he spent in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Photo: Zoran Orlic.

A news story published yesterday by the Illinois News Network highlighted the ongoing problem that local exonerees are facing as a result of the state’s two-year budgetary impasse. As was written about back in December by the Pantagraph, there are 14 Illinois exonerees who are entitled to compensation from the state for the time they spent wrongfully imprisoned, but until the state passes its budget, the individuals are missing out on the payments to which they are due.

Illinois Court of Claims owes the 14 exonerees a total of $2.5 million, with compensation awards ranging from $5,000 to $220,732. The amounts are determined based on the number of years spent in prison.

“The state of Illinois is fully obligated to pay these claims,” said the Executive Director of the Illinois Innocence Project John Hanlon to the Illinois News Network.

Related: Massachusetts Compensation Law Leaves Exonerees in the Lurch

In December, Hanlon asked lawmakers to approve the claims as part of a special awards bill, wrote the Pantagraph in December, but according to yesterday’s news story, “the Illinois legislature had yet to approve the claims nor include payments in budget projections.”

Until the state approves these claims, exonerated individuals—such as Innocent Project client and Illinois-based exoneree Angel Gonzalez—will be hard-pressed to move their lives forward without having the resources they need.

“We’ve done everything to comply with the law that’s possible,” said Hanlon to the Illinois News Network “It’s the state that’s not complying with their statutes — it’s really shameful.”

Angel Gonzalez (left) with his friend, volunteering at an Innocence Project event in summer of 2016.

Angel Gonzalez (left) with his friend, volunteering at an Innocence Project event in summer of 2016.

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  1. Ruthe Wille says:

    We must all keep fighting for everyone that has been wrongfully convicted, ” please don’t ever give up! My Son, William Carini was Wrongfully Convicted of a Rape in Lake County, Illinois in 1991! I finally got them to retest the evidence! They found Male DNA Profiles on her underwear and car seat, NONE OF THEM MATCHED MY SON! On January 3,2017 William Carini was the 7th Wrongfully Convicted Person to have all charges dropped ! We still have a big fight in front of us, they used the Rape to Wrongfully convict him of Murder in Cook County! I have sent volumns of new facts, etc. please help me and call Kim Fox, Newly elected Cook County States Attorney and ask her to please investigate his case and give him a new trial to correct the Judicial misconduct so he can show her what really happened! Call Kim Fox @ 312-603-1880 thanks for your help! We have to fight like the Wonen!s March today, and get Justice for every wrongfully convicted person in this country! ” We can do it’! Just like Barack told us!

  2. Tina says:

    That’s wrong police had resources when they arrested Angel but now they can’t pay him for loosing half of his life in prison for a crime he never comitted

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