Rasmussen College Criminal Justice students learn just how important the legal system is from Alan Beaman, a man wrongfully accused of murder.
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Dani Maxwell: Criminal justice students learn how important the system is from a Rockford man who spent 13 years in prison for a murder he didn't do.
Eric Wilson: Alan Beaman told them his story and how it can be a learning example. 13 News reporter Michael Peppers has more.
Michael Peppers: Alan Beaman had a simple message for criminal justice students at Rasmussen College.
Alan Beaman: Anybody can go out and take vengeance on an evildoer, but it takes a trained professional to have procedures that protect us from the mistakes that can be made in an investigation.
Michael Peppers: Beaman served 13 of a 50 year sentence for the murder of Jennifer Lockmiller in 1995, before the conviction was overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2008. Joined by his attorney, Karen Daniels, they urged students to consider the impact of wrongful convictions.
Karen Daniels: A serious student going into the field of criminal justice needs to say, "Am I okay with that?" Or, "Am I going to approach my job in a way so as to avoid that?"
Ron Harper: And I think if they can walk away with a sense that we should be looking for truth and that a person is innocent until proven guilty, then that's what they should have.
Michael Peppers: And Beaman wants them to remember his story when entering their careers.
Alan Beaman: I want them to remember that it's okay to admit that you've made a mistake, because people are going to make mistakes. It's the unwillingness to backtrack and double check your work, it's the unwillingness to entertain the possibility that you could be wrong that allows those mistakes to be set in stone.
Michael Peppers: For your news leader, Michael Peppers, 13 News.
Eric Wilson: McLain County prosecutors intended to retry Beaman on the murder charges, but eventually dismissed the case against him. He's filed a lawsuit against them and is asking the governor for a pardon.