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Angel Gonzalez’s exoneration became real this month when, three months and eight days after his release from prison for a crime he didn’t commit, he received his Certificate of Innocence in Waukegan, Lake County, Ill. This Certificate officially recognizes Angel’s actual innocence and makes him now eligible for compensation from the State of Illinois for wrongfully incarcerating him for 21 years. Congratulations, Angel!

Angel Gonzalez with Lauren Kaeseberg, staff attorney, Illinois Innocence Project (L) and Vanessa Potkin, senior staff attorney, Innocence Project (R) after receiving his Certificate of Innocence.

While we’ve been celebrating the recent exonerations of two Project clients, Angel Gonzalez (in partnership with the national Innocence Project) and Christopher Abernathy, 48 other innocent men and women across the nation have been exonerated already this year, according to The National Registry for Exonerations, which tracks all known exonerations since 1989. Here are just two of the total 1,616 cases detailed on the Registry website


State: TX
Date of Exoneration: 6/9/2015
In 2005, Alfred Brown was sentenced to death for the killing of a police officer during a robbery in Houston during which a store employee also was killed. He was exonerated in 2015 after telephone records corroborating his alibi were found in a detective's garage, and a witness recanted testimony that Brown confessed to the crime.


State: VA
Date of Exoneration: 5/13/2015
In 1986, Michael McAlister was convicted of attempted rape and kidnapping and sentenced to 35 years in prison. He was exonerated in 2015 when Virginia Gov. Terry  McAuliffe granted an absolute pardon after an imprisoned serial rapist confessed to the crime.


Desk space is hard to come by for the unprecedented number of students – 13 – working with the Project this summer. We welcome some of our new additions:


Doug Enright
Doug is from Willowbrook, Ill., and will graduate from UIS this summer with a major in criminal justice. News of IIP’s role in two Illinois exonerations earlier this year and other wrongful conviction cases across the country drew him to the Project.


Anne Felix
Anne is from Amsterdam and a 2015 graduate of Vrije Universiteit. The movie “Conviction” inspired her to work on behalf of the innocent. She wrote to nearly every innocence-related project in the United States, and received her first invitation to intern at the Illinois Innocence Project.


Paul Kieffer
Paul is from St. Louis and a junior at Hope College, where he is studying pre-law. His work at IIP is helping him prepare for law school and providing an outlet for his desire to help others.


Sadie Shourd
Sadie is from Springfield, Ill., and a senior at Tulane University, where she is majoring in legal studies. She plans to attend law school after graduation and finds her work at IIP fulfilling academically and personally.


Ruth Ziogas
Ruth is from Springfield, Ill., and will graduate from UIS this summer with a major in criminal justice. Reading about wrongful convictions peaked her interest in the innocence movement and working toward reforms to the criminal justice system.