Illinois recorded more criminal exonerations than any other state in 2020, according to a new report, which found nearly all of those cases were tied to a disgraced former Chicago police detective and his team.
The National Registry of Exonerations released its annual report, which found Illinois led the nation in criminal exonerations for the third year in a row. Of the 22 exonerations recorded in the state last year, the vast majority were drug possession or sale convictions tied to ex-CPD Sgt. Ronald Watts.
“Illinois’s ranking continues to be driven by the large number of exonerees tied to misconduct of corrupt police officers led by Sgt. Ronald Watts of the Chicago Police Department, who planted drugs on people after they refused to pay officers attempting to extort money from them,” the report states.
According to the report, 17 of those 22 exonerations were tied to Watts, who led a tactical team that has been accused of manufacturing dozens of drug cases over the course of several years against residents and guests of the Ida B. Wells housing project in the Bronzeville neighborhood.