The Englewood Four Are Exonerated
Today marks the end of a very long ordeal for four Chicago men who were unjustly convicted as teenagers. After 17 years, Michael Saunders, Harold Richardson, Vincent Thames and Terrill Swifthave finally been exonerated of the 1994 murder of Nina Glover. The States Attorneys Office announced at a hearing today that they are dismissing the indictments against the four men. The decision follows a judges November 2011 order to vacate the four convictions.
Saunders, Richardson, Thames and Swift have spent most of their adult lives in prison. They were between the ages of 15 and 18 when they arrested. Based on false confessions and without a shred of physical evidence, they were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 30-40 years in prison. Their cases, and others in Cook County, reveal a dangerous pattern of injustice based on false confessions. The Innocence Project is calling on Cook County to conduct a review of all cases involving juvenile confessions. In the past four months, ten people have been exonerated through DNA testing in Illinois after being unjustly convicted based on confessions they gave as teenagers.
Innocence Project supporters and others played a role in todays victory by continuing to pressure States Attorney Anita Alvarez to join in seeking to overturn convictions of the Englewood Four. Prosecutors knew for nearly a year that DNA testing implicated a convicted murderer and cleared the four men, yet they stood by the wrongful convictions. In that time, more than 70,000 people signed a petition calling for their exonerations.
Although all four men had already been released, today heralds the beginning of their new lives out of state supervision and on their own. Saunders says Its been a long time coming, and now that its over I just want to take it all in.
The four men are represented by the Innocence Project, the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, the Exoneration Project of the University of Chicago Law School and Valorem Law Group.
Thank you for your part in this and for your continued commitment to justice,
The Innocence Project
The Innocence Project