Center on Wrongful Convictions

Thank you to everyone who supported the 2016 CWC Annual Benefit!

What a great night!
View the photographs

CWC Director Karen Daniel's podcast interview on eyewitness identification evidence

"Exonerated" film

"Exonerated" vividly captures six of our clients' experiences before and after their exonerations. We gratefully thank photographer Andy Goodwin for creating this film, and we congratulate him for winning Best In Show at The Midwest Independent Film Festival.

Federal court orders new trial for Brendan Dassey

Brendan Dassey's petition for a writ of habeas corpus was granted on August 12, 2016, on the ground that his confession was involuntary. Click here to read the opinion. Brendan is a client of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth and his case achieved national prominence after release of the Netflix series Making a Murderer. A press release about the habeas decision is here.


Circuit Court grants Gabriel Solache's post-conviction petition

On July 29, 2016, a Cook County Circuit Court judge granted Gabriel Solache's post-conviction petition, which was first filed by the Center on Wrongful Convictions in 2003. Judge James Michael Obbish found that Mr. Solache and his codefendant, Arturo Reyes, made a substantial showing that their confessions were obtained through abuse and coercion by former Chicago Police detective Reynaldo Guevara. Click here to read the opinion. See here and here for media coverage.

Gabriel Solache

Circuit Court grants Charles Johnson a new trial

CWC client Charles Johnson was granted a new trial on July 11, 2016, based on fingerprint evidence discovered after trial that points away from Mr. Johnson and his codefendants, and points instead to an alternative suspect. Read media coverage here and here.

Charles Johnson

Davontae Sanford is free at last

Davontae Sanford was just 14 when he was arrested outside of his home in his pajamas and coerced into confessing to a quadruple homicide he had no knowledge of and certainly did not commit. On June 8, 2016, at the age of 23, Davontae finally walked out of prison, thanks to the efforts of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth and others on his large legal team.


Read much more about Davontae's exoneration here.

CWC Director Karen Daniel discusses wrongful convictions on the Undisclosed podcast

Steve Drizin and Laura Nirider discuss the Brendan Dassey false confession case

The friendship of two CWC clients is front-page news

Christopher Coleman and Dana Holland

Dana Holland and Christopher Coleman shared more than a cell in prison; they shared claims of innocence and dreams of freedom. Eventually, they also shared an attorney: Karen Daniel, now Director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions. Chicago Tribune investigative reporter Steve Mills details their friendship and their eventual exonerations, a decade apart, in this incredible story: Innocent prisoners jailed in same cell forge friendship, and freedom.

Daniel Andersen is officially declared innocent

Daniel Anderson

On December 18, 2015, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Alfredo Maldonado granted our client Daniel Andersen a certificate of innocence: a judicial certification that he is actually innocent of the crime for which he spent 27.5 years in prison. More...

Jason Strong goes home after 15 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit

Jason Strong

Jason Strong was released from Menard Correctional Center on May 28, 2015, after 15 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit. His release came after the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim that agreed they had no objection to the granting of Strong’s federal habeas petition. More...

Jane Beber Abramson Award

Thanks to the generosity of the family of the late Jane Beber Abramson, the Center on Wrongful Convictions is able to specially recognize one or more individuals every year "for extraordinary dedication to pursuing justice for the wrongly convicted." The award winners to date are:

  • 2008: Judy Royal and Ron Safer
  • 2009: Marian Tomlinson
  • 2010: Gary Elden and Phyllis Mandler
  • 2011: James Kaplan
  • 2012: Amy Kaplan
  • 2013: Amy Berg, Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, Peter Jackson, David McMahon, and Fran Walsh
  • 2014: Mararet Soffin and Susan Swanson
  • 2015: Michael Sklar
  • 2016: Esther Hernandez

In Memoriam: Our Beloved Jane Raley

Jane Raley

It is with the greatest sadness that we announce the passing of Co-Director Jane Raley, a member of our legal staff since 2000 and truly the heart of the Center on Wrongful Convictions.  She died peacefully at home on Christmas morning 2014, surrounded by her loving family.

The cause of criminal justice lost one of our greatest and most compassionate warriors.  Jane was an incredible lawyer, a tenacious advocate for her clients, a revered mentor of law students and young lawyers, and an exceptionally loving and caring person.  All who knew her will miss her beyond measure.  Many innocent men and women are free from their convictions due to Jane’s work, and many young lawyers are out doing good in the world—and understand the good that attorneys can accomplish—due to Jane’s magnificent example during her 14 years as a law professor at Northwestern University School of Law.

A sampling of online tributes to Jane:

Rest in peace, our dear Jane.

(In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in her memory to the Jane Raley Memorial Fund at Northwestern University School of Law. Please contact for more information.)