The best thing to do about wrongful convictions is avoid them. Over and over, the Illinois Innocence Project has learned that bad convictions result from bad police work, whether from jumping to conclusions about a suspect, sloppy gathering of evidence or eliciting a false confession. So the IIP has partnered with the Police Training Institute at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign on a “Wrongful Conviction Avoidance” training class. Since the class was introduced in 2016, nearly 500 police cadets representing 107 police departments across the state have taken it. Though the class is optional, about 75% of each class enrolls to learn what law enforcement can do to avoid miscarriages of justice. Many cadets say hearing from exonerees and interacting with them is the most meaningful part of the training. With this positive track record, Illinois Innocence Project and PTI are preparing to expand the class to other police training academies.

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