Illinois is not the only state nor is Chicago the only city that time and again finds itself addressing wrongful convictions. It may be a coincidence that the stories are remarkably similar regardless of where they took place. A crime occurs. The police identify a suspect, usually a young man, and detain him. He is questioned for hours, often lied to or tricked one way or another, until he signs a confession. That confession leads to a plea bargain, or a jury finds him guilty. He ends up in prison, serving a sentence that will keep him there for decades, if not the rest of his life.
Two recent exonerations in Cook County show just how difficult it can be to clear your name following a wrongful conviction. When we left off in our last post, we were talking about Daniel Andersen's situation.
In the movies, on television, in the papers -- wherever we turn it seems that the goal of a wrongfully convicted man or woman is exoneration. The term has come to mean not just that the guilty verdict has been overturned but that this man or woman has been proven innocent. Exoneration has become synonymous with having your name cleared and the slate wiped clean.
We are continuing our discussion about a Will County man, Mark L. Lewis, who is charged with killing his sister. According to authorities, in 2011, Lewis beat his sister to death after an argument over money she said was missing from their mother's bank account. In 2013, the court found him mentally unfit to stand trial. In September, he will go back to court for the next step in his insanity defense.