As the number of wrongfully convicted prisoners who are subsequently exonerated continues to rise, the importance of access to post-conviction relief also increases. Under the Illinois Post-Conviction Hearing Act, this access is restricted to petitioners who are currently imprisoned or otherwise facing a restraint on their liberty. Persons convicted of a crime who have completed their sentence are barred from pursuing post-conviction relief under the Act, regardless of the existence of exculpatory evidence that supports their innocence. Removing this procedural roadblock and interpreting the Act broadly to allow any person convicted of a crime to raise a claim of actual innocence is necessary to ensure that the wrongfully convicted can, eventually, have justice.
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