Students Who Exposed 30-Year-Old Wrongful Conviction Being Targeted By Chicago DA
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Nine groups of student journalists from Medill have interviewed McKinney in prison. By their accounts, he's a fragile and gentle man who's battled severe depression during three decades of wrongful incarceration. "If the state had gotten its way," Protess notes, "he would have been executed long ago."
I was one of those students. I took Protess's class in the spring of 2004 and worked on McKinney's case. The experience became the highlight of my time at Medill. My team and I were just twenty-one and twenty-two at the time, thrust into unfamiliar environs on the South Side of Chicago and elsewhere, trying to ferret out the facts of a murder that occurred before any of us were born. David's class, more than any other, taught me how to be a reporter, how to make make difficult decisions in a quick and decisive manner and how to always strive for justice and empathy in my work. (CNN anchor and McKinney alum Nicole Lapin has also posted a great piece about her own experiences.)