Was the 'wrongfully convicted' Anthony Porter rightfully convicted in the first place?

You might remember Anthony Porter, supposedly one of the innocents who had been wrongfully convicted of murder, but then released because he was supposedly framed by the corrupt criminal justice system.

Well, it's high time for another look at the Porter case because the evidence, shows to my way of thinking, that they got the right guy to start with and in the process of freeing him, the  "wrongful conviction" advocates ended up nailing another guy for the double murders that it appears that Porter committed.

Here are the details of the case as outlined by Martin Preib in his newcity.com article,  "Crossing Lines: What’s Wrong with the Wrongful Conviction Movement."

( Tribune photo by Chris Walker / June 6, 2002 ) At his Thompson Center office in Chicago, Gov. George Ryan, left, pats the hand of Anthony Porter, right, after the two men met for the first time. Ryan had suspended the death penalty in Illinois and Porter was freed from death row after serving time for a murder he didn't commit. But a re-examination of the evidence raises serious questions that Porter might, indeed, be guilty.

( Tribune photo by Chris Walker / June 6, 2002 )
At his Thompson Center office in Chicago, Gov. George Ryan, left, pats the hand of Anthony Porter, right, after the two men met for the first time. Ryan had suspended the death penalty in Illinois and Porter was freed from death row after serving time for a murder he didn't commit. But a re-examination of the evidence raises serious questions that Porter might, indeed, be guilty.

If this is true, and there are good reasons to believe that it is, this is a serious indictment of the wrongful conviction industry. They might have been responsible for freeing a goodly number of innocent people, but this is one case that deserves a second, hard look. Wrote Preib:

Wrongful conviction settlements are big business, but they are not always sensible. Chicago settles millions of dollars in cases where convicted offenders claim they were wrongfully convicted. For a number of law firms, suing the city over wrongful convictions has become a kind of cottage industry.

Inmates claim they were tortured and coerced into confessing. The offenders are freed from prison. Attorneys quickly initiate civil lawsuits against the city. Many people assume that a settlement signifies the police were culpable and had something to hide.

But this is not the truth in several key wrongful conviction cases, none more so than the Anthony Porter case, a double murder in 1982 in Washington Park on the South Side.

Keep reading and you might well conclude that the injustices in this case are inexcusable.

You can get more details by reading about it in Preib's new book, Crooked City, available at  Amazon. Crooked City

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    Chicago Tribune contributing op-ed columnist and author of forthcoming historical novel, "Madness: The War of 1812." Reporter, editor and columnist for Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News. Freelance writer and editor.

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