- Published: 08 March 2017
SPRINGFIELD- Donovan Allen was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for 15 years based on testimony from a jailhouse informant who was provided incentives for testifying.
Because of DNA evidence, Allen case was overturned.
State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) advanced Senate Bill 1830 to help prevent people like Allen from being wrongfully convicted.
“If defense attorneys provided similar incentives, they would be charged with bribing witnesses,” Hastings said. “Cases similar to Allen are showing us that you get what you pay for. If you incentivize testimony, people are likely to lie and innocent people go to jail.”
Some of the incentives offered to “jail house snitches” include criminal charges dropped or lighter sentences given.
Senate Bill 1830 puts protections in place to work toward giving defendants a fair trial. It will allow jailhouse informant testimony to be challenged for reliability as well as require the prosecution to disclose any intent to introduce informant testimony at least 30 days prior to the hearing.
”Sending the wrong person to prison doesn’t make our neighborhoods any safer,” Hastings said.
The Illinois Innocence Project approached Hastings to introduce this initiative to help promote a fair and just use of testimony from jailhouse informants.
"Illinois is once again paving the way as a leader in addressing the causes of wrongful convictions. This bill would add much needed protections to ensure the reliability of jailhouse informant testimony, which will help ensure the rights of the innocent,” Amol Sinha, State Policy Advocate with the Innocence Project said. “We thank Senator Hastings for his dedicated leadership and look forward to working with stakeholders and both chambers of the General Assembly to prevent wrongful convictions in Illinois."
Senate Bill 1830 passed the Senate’s Committee on Criminal Law with bipartisan support and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.