Illinois Hopes to Stem Wrongful Convictions with New Interrogation Law By: Cameron Albert-Deitch | October 28,
Photo via Center on Wrongful Convictions
Exonerated of murder, Juan Rivera attends a news conference. CHICAGO — Juan Rivera’s wrongful conviction is one of the most infamous blots on the record of the Illinois justice system’s recent history. Due to coercive interrogation methods, he spent 19 years in prison for a rape and murder he did not commit before he was finally freed in January 2012. With so many exonerations in Illinois – many blamed on the notorious term of Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge, known for and convicted on charges related to running a crew that tortured confessions out of mostly minority suspects – some say it’s about time some teeth were put into the state’s legal system.
Now, a new law, Illinois SB1006, requiring the recordings of interrogations in certain violent crime investigations, is intended to close the Burge chapter for good and put an end to stories like Rivera’s. The Unrecorded Interrogations On Aug. 17, 1992, 11-year-old Holly Staker was raped and murdered while babysitting two young children in Waukegan, Ill. Following a 10-week investigation, officers began focusing on Juan Rivera, then 19, based on a tip from an informant. Rivera’s story is a well-known one. He had been under electronic monitoring by local police from a burglary conviction, and that monitoring showed he was at his home more than two miles from the scene when the crime occurred.
There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime. But after four days of questioning, Rivera broke down. He cried, beat his head against the wall, spoke incoherently and was seemingly unaware of where he was. chicago-bureau-logo_JJIEsquareRivera would later tell reporters that the interrogations became so intense that he would say or do anything to make the interrogators stop. Investigators prepared a typed confession and put it in front of Rivera. He signed it.
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- Jury deliberating in Taylor murder trial (local10.com)