Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Four honored by Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at UIS

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield honored four individuals with Defenders of the Innocent Awards on May 16, 2011. The awards were handed out as part of a 10th anniversary celebration and fundraiser at the Inn at 835 in Springfield.

Those honored with the award included U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill) for his support for the growth and development of the project's work on behalf of the innocent; former State Police Crime Scene investigator Alva Busch for his work exonerating Belleville resident Keith Harris; true crime author Diane Fanning, whose book about a Texas serial killer helped exonerate Julie Rea Harper of Lawrenceville; and former State Police Investigation Commander Michale Callahan (author of Too Politically Sensitive) whose efforts to re-investigate a Paris, Ill. double murder case helped exonerate Herb Whitlock.

“Really the work that we do is work to try and put ourselves out of work,” said Larry Golden, director of the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project. “I would hope 10 years from now we aren’t needed. That would be the greatest success we could have.”

The Innocence Project at UIS was founded in 2000, when Bill Clutter, who now serves as director of investigations, brought the idea to Golden and Nancy Ford, former Interim Director of the Institute for Legal and Policy Studies.

The anniversary event also highlighted a new partnership that began last year between UIS, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Law, and Southern Illinois Law School. Awards were given to graduating law students who worked on project cases.

Read more about the cases and award winners

Learn more about the Innocence Project

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