Exonerated former death-row inmate to speak Monday at IU Bloomington

Randy Steidl spent 17 years in prison, including 12 years on death row, as a result of being wrongfully convicted of a double murder of two newlyweds in Southern Illinois.

His conviction was overturned after a law enforcement review found local police had botched the original investigation of the crime, according to the advocacy group Witness to Innocence. DNA evidence from the murders was tested and found to have no connection to Steidl.

Randy Steidl

Randy Steidl

Now an activist who speaks against capital punishment, Steidl will be at Indiana University Bloomington to share his story on Monday, Nov. 17. He will speak at noon in the Moot Court Room of the IU Maurer School of Law in a program sponsored by the law school’s chapter of the American Constitution Society.

Steidl left prison in 2004 and was later described as the public face of the anti-death penalty movement in Illinois. And the movement was successful. When state lawmakers voted in January 2011 to repeal capital punishment in Illinois, Steidl was in the gallery.

“It was a very poignant moment for me,” Steidl said at the time of a 2011 speaking engagement at IU. “Twenty-five years ago, when I was sitting on death row and facing execution, I never thought I’d live to see that day.”

Steidl is a member of the board of directors of Witness to Innocence, an organization that seeks to empower people who have been exonerated after having been found guilty of capital offenses. He speaks against the death penalty on college campuses and to state legislators and faith communities.

Witness to Innocence says at least 143 people have been released from death row after having been exonerated in the past four decades.

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