Founded in 2011, the Chicago Innocence Center (“CIC”) is a nonprofit organization devoted to investigative reporting of wrongful convictions. CIC engages college students, community residents, private investigators and journalists in reporting, exposing and remedying mistakes by the criminal justice system. Like its predecessor, the Medill Innocence Project, CIC was established by Northwestern University Professor David Protess. Under Protess’s tutelage, Medill students uncovered evidence that freed 12 innocent prisoners, five of them from death row, igniting a debate about the death penalty that led to its abolition in Illinois.
“A system that depends on young journalism students is flawed,” former Gov. George H. Ryan said in an announcement that he had cleared death row. The governor also praised Protess for being a teacher who has “poured his heart and soul” into helping his students free innocent prisoners. As President of CIC, Protess is continuing the tradition of hard-hitting investigative reporting that he began at Northwestern. But CIC is unique in several respects: