U Of I Project, DNA Help Free Northern Illinois Man

Feb 16, 2015

DNA helped exonerate more than 300 people in the U.S. Among the most recent was Christopher Abernathy, who was freed last week from a northern Illinois prison. He served almost 30 years for rape and murder. 

Credit Illinois Department of Corrections

The Illinois Innocence Project, based at the U of I Springfield, provided DNA testing in that case. Its founder, Larry Golden, says he's seen a change in how people view the justice system and its mistakes in the past two decades.

"The growth of the innocence movement and the exposure to the mistakes that have been made, particularly years ago in the practices of police, yes we are in a very different place today."

The project helped exonerate seven people since it was founded. Golden says it receives on average one request for help each day, either from attorneys, inmates or family members.