A woman from Mount Vernon who served 27 years of a life sentence for her husband’s death is among 87 people who have been granted clemency by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.
Attorneys for the Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield say Peggy Jo Jackson was convicted of first-degree murder in 1987. They say her husband was abusive and beat her regularly and that Jackson was convicted for not trying to stop her brother from killing him.
Jackson was freed from the Logan Correctional Center on parole on Friday.
Erica Nichols-Cook was the lead attorney on the case. She calls Quinn’s executive order “a victory for all innocent women that have suffered from serious domestic abuse.”
In a statement, Quinn’s office says the governor also denied 135 clemency petitions.
According to the Sun Times, even her original public defender, who is now a judge in Illinois’ Fourth Judicial Circuit and lives in Salem, wrote a letter of support saying he botched the trial, which he said continues to “haunt me to this day.”
“By 1986, when I was assigned as an assistant public defender to represent defendant Peggy Jo Jackson, I had tried only one other murder case,” wrote Judge Michael McHaney. “Based on my inexperience at the time, I had no business trying this case myself.”