The state is settling a wrongful conviction lawsuit for a record $40 million. The Illinois State Police will pay that amount to five men who were convicted of the 1991 rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in Dixmoor. The convictions were vacated in 2011, but attorney Locke Bowman says these men won’t forget the time they spent in prison now that they’re receiving millions of dollars.
“Nobody is going to be sitting home counting that money,” Bowman said. “These men are sitting home, mending broken lives, counting days that they spent in prison without justice.”
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The lawsuit claimed that the five, all of whom were teenagers at the time, were abused and threatened by police to confess to the crime. Two of the men, Shainnie Sharp and Robert Veal, served 10-year sentences, and were free by the time the convictions were vacated. The other three, James Harden, Jonathan Barr, and Robert Taylor, spent nearly 20 years behind bars.
The $40 million is a record for the largest settlement for a wrongful conviction lawsuit in state history.