Cook County leads the nation in exonerations while price of justice grows

Cook County leads the nation in exonerations while price of justice grows

We might need to add $10.25 million to Chicago’s long tab of legal settlements paid out to people who’ve been wrongfully convicted.

The city’s council’s Finance Committee on Tuesday approved the payment to Alton Logan, a man who spent 26 years behind bars for murder while police swept evidence under the rug that he was innocent, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Logan is just one of 83 people wrongly convicted in Cook County over the past three decades. That figure has earned the county the distinction of being the “false conviction capital” of the nation because more people have been exonerated here than in any other jurisdiction.  As we reported in our latest issue, Dallas and Los Angeles counties take second and third place but have have far fewer cases:

Cook Leads the Nation infographic

Those cases played out in Cook County’s criminal courts, which is a place known for its ever-revolving door of defendants and public defenders who carry crushing caseloads. What do we mean by crushing? We broke down the numbers:

Carrying a hefty load infographic

On Thursday, the full City Council will put Logan’s settlement to a vote. If it is approved, the $10.25 million payout will be just a drop in the bucket compared with how much Cook County taxpayers are paying to cover the cost of criminal justice.

In the 40 years since The Chicago Reporter launched, spending on the county’s courts, police and jail alone have jumped from $45 per person each year to $222.


Read more about how the criminal justice system has changed in the past four decades in our new 40th anniversary issue of  the Reporter.


Reporter Angela Caputo contributed to this report.

Photo credit: zol87

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