CHICAGO — Two McLean County men are among the entries in a newly released national database of more than 900 men and women who were exonerated since 1989 after being convicted of crimes they did not commit.

The National Registry of Exonerations is a searchable resource organized by Rob Warden of the Center on Wrongful Convictions in Chicago and Samuel H. Gross of the University of Michigan Law School.

McLean County exoneration stories included in the database stem from the 2008 release of Alan Beaman after a dozen years in prison on murder charges in the death of Illinois State University student Jennifer Lockmiller and the 2005 exoneration of Corey Eason on sex offender registration charges.

As extensive as the database is, Gross and Warden believe hundreds of other exonerations exist.

“It’s clear that the exonerations we know about are the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of men and women who are falsely convicted are never exonerated. They serve their time or die in prison,” said Gross.

Shortcomings in case

In Beaman’s case, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously overturned his conviction based on a ruling that identified shortcomings in the state’s case, including the fact that the jury was not told about another viable suspect who was in the Twin Cities when Lockmiller was slain.

Beaman was at home in Rockfold just hours before police believe Lockmiller was killed Aug. 23, 1993. Much of the state’s case hinged on a theory that he drove the 130 miles to the victim’s apartment at a high rate of speed, committed the crime and returned home mid-afternoon before his mother.

Beaman is working on several fronts to clear his name. He has pending certificate of innocence and clemency petitions with the state and a lawsuit filed in federal court against police officers and former prosecutors involved in his case. A July hearing is scheduled to discuss DNA test results.

Eason challenged his multiple arrests in 2005 for failing to register as a sex offender. The Bloomington man was listed on a state sex offender website — a mistake that should not have happened— based on 1995 conviction on a sex offense when he was a juvenile in Livingston County. The state did not start requiring minors to register their address with police until 1999.

Illinois is among the top 10 states for exonerations, with 103 cases where defendants were cleared of charges.

There are several reasons Illinois has logged so many exonerations, said Warden, noting that the center he directs at Northwestern University has uncovered 48 of those cases since it opened in 1998. False confessions, mistaken identity and the discovery of new evidence play a part in clearing the defendants. Fewer than one-third of the men and women were cleared by DNA results, said Warden.


Registry details

The National Registry of Exonerations contains the names of more than 900 men and women who were exonerated since 1989 after being convicted of crimes they did not commit. They include:

  • 58 for drug, tax, white collar and other non-violent crimes
  • 39 in federal cases
  • 102 for child sex abuse convictions
  • 129 defendants who were convicted of crimes that never happened
  • 135 defendants who confessed to crimes they didn’t commit
  • 35 innocent defendants who pleaded guilty

SOURCE: National Registry of Exonerations

www.exonerationregistry.org

(6) comments

exrepub
exrepub

This probably happens frequently. People lie about others involvement or not and then the one arrested is told if you don't plead guilty you are facing 10 years in jail or something. So at the time it seems better to just admit you did it and get it over with. The problem is that so many people are crooks and they are guilty of some stuff but it is hard to tell what and who is guilty at the moment. So sometimes I guess you just think well you did this and didn't get caught so when you got caught for something you didn't do it averages out. And that doesn't even factor in all the guilty people who have someone bailing them out, the lawyers putting on a good case getting people off and plea deals letting known criminals walk. I would say the system is largely messed up.

BC
BC

The method of crime solving, and public attitude. puts many more than anyone realizes in such a position. Instead of fully investigating the authorities pick a suspect and build a case. Once they have a target they discard anything that doesn't point to that one person. If they can't find enough they bribe convicted criminals to swear to statements in return for favors. The public believes anything they hear VIA the media and pounce like wolves. Enough information is released to insure a conviction long before the trial. With the amount of publicity, especially in high profile cases, getting an unbiased jury is impossible. All you have to do is read the comment section concerning cases like Peterson or the Gee case to see the process in action. Both cases have been tried in the media and the guilty verdict is in. That is how we get wrongful convictions, the release of hand picked information to the media and lazy investigation. The public doesn't care if the right person is convicted as long as someone is Most jurors already have made up their mind before the first testimony begins. Consequently we have a fair number of guilty people walking the streets and innocents behind bars. Ryan released 13 totally and unquestionably innocent people. The half bright public was furious, not because they subjects had been falsely convicted but because they were released. The families were upset because someone was no longer being punished, the fact the real offender was still roaming free didn't matter..

patriot6
patriot6

The system does have flaws, however that still doesnt mean Beamon was found not guilty or that Eason wasent a threat more that it is a law that was later put on the books. Hardly saying at this time that either of these people are innocent or some sort of victims..

bob miller
bob miller

The system currently is flawed in that appeals are heard by the same judge that convicted the person in the first place. So whether the judge had bias or not in the first instance, but however was the person who, during sentencing, told the Defendant that they were in essence the scum-of-the-earth and deserving of no lieniency whatsoever, then how is a fair and unbiased appeal for the person wrongfully sentenced supposed to come about?

plainjane777
plainjane777

patriot6, they are absolutely victims, and so are many others. According to a recent report by the Better Government Association, Wrongful convictions have cost Illinois tax payers $214 Million. While 85 people were wrongfully incarcerated, the actual perpetrators were on a collective crime spree that included 14 murders, 11 sexual assaults, 10 kidnappings, and 62 other felonies (Tell THESE victims that they are not victims). This is just the tip of the iceberg, and I guarantee you will see Jamie Snow's name added to that registry within the next couple of years.

BGA Report here: http://www.bettergov.org/investigations/wrongful_convictions_1.aspx

vahall
vahall

patriot6, does your comment imply the very fact of an arrest = a guilty conviction? How does ANYONE prove they are "'not a threat"? Our system is designed to protect an individual facing the immense power of the state, when accused. That is why the presumption of innocence is at the core of it. It's much easier to presume someone guilty than to presume them innocent and that is the road of the mentally and morally lazy person, which leads to a lynch mob mentality ... Your assumption turns that core principle on its head and requires proof of innocence, rather than proof of guilt.

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