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Cristina Prestin-Beard

Mentor Department

Family and Consumer Sciences


The United States hosts a criminal justice system not immune to flaws which victimize everyday people. What factors determine one’s path from arrest to incarceration? How can innocent, everyday people be caught up in this process, and how can that ultimately result in imprisonment? The causes of wrongful conviction are widely agreed to fit into distinct categories. These include official misconduct, eyewitness misidentification, false and coerced confessions, false or misleading evidence, inadequate legal defense, and incentivized witnesses (The Center on Wrongful Convictions, The National Registry of Exonerations, and The Innocence Project). While Illinois law is beginning to address some of these issues, wrongful conviction continues to loom as a danger inseparable from the criminal justice system at present. Dozens of court cases have secured Illinois residents’ exoneration after proving that they suffered incarceration after a wrongful conviction. These wrongful convictions can be mapped across northern, central, and southern Illinois in recent years, providing a great degree of relatability to Illinois State University personnel.

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