Dean Cage was released from prison in Chicago last night, after serving nearly 14 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Mr. Cage’s exoneration marks the 29th wrongful conviction revealed in the state of Illinois, since the Innocence Project began investigating cases in which DNA evidence was preserved and held the potential to prove innocence.
Like 20 of the other wrongful convictions uncovered so far in Illinois, Mr. Cage was wrongfully convicted on the basis of erroneous eyewitness evidence. After a composite sketch was circulated around the neighborhood, an anonymous individual reported that Mr. Cage was a possible suspect, and reported his place of employment.
In a blatantly unnecessary and excessively suggestive identification procedure, the police then took the victim to the meat-packing plant where Mr. Cage worked, to see if she could identify her attacker. Naturally, she picked out the man who presumably looked most like her attacker. But as it turned out, resembling the attacker was Mr. Cage’s only link to that crime.
This is one more case study in favor of Illinois evolving its police procedures into the 21st century, rather than fighting tooth and nail to preserve its antiquated — and demonstrably flawed — practices.