MIP Legal Director Laura O’Sullivan, Sarah Hess (3Land MIPSO Pres.) Tom Honse (2L), Sarah Jackson (1L), George Allen, Jr. and Allen’s sister smile following Allen’s release from prison after 30 years.
UMKC law students gave newly freed man, George Allen, a head start on his new life.
Allen, imprisoned for 30 years for rape and murder, was given his freedom Wednesday after a judge ruled that St. Louis police hid or destroyed evidence and led Allen to a false confession. Lawyers with the New York-based Innocence Project have been working on the case for more than two years.
Tim Honse, 2L, Sarah Jackson, 1L and Sarah Hess, 3L, drove to Jefferson City to see Allen’s release along with Midwest Innocence Project Legal Director Laura O’Sullivan.
“He’s looking forward to some home cooking by Mom. His sister was there, and he was able to hug and kiss those people for the first time in decades. There was not a dry eye in the house, I don’t think,” O’Sullivan said.
UMKC Law students raised money during a Murder Mystery Dinner event and during the lunch hour. The donations were used to purchase items Allen would need outside prison walls.
“We hit Target and Goodwill to purchase a duffel bag full of clothes and toiletries so he can, start of his freedom with dignity,” O’Sullivan said.
Hess, who also serves as president of the Midwest Innocence Projects Student Organization, said it was an amazing day to witness.
“I have known for a long time that innocence work is what I would like to spend my life doing, so to be part of George Allen’s release yesterday was a moment I will never forget,” Hess said. “Although we were not directly involved in the legal aspects of the case, we were still able to give him something really special.
“He told his attorneys that one of the first things he wanted to do when he got out was go shopping. Because of his particular situation and the appeal of the case by the Attorney General’s office, it was not clear whether funds would be available for Mr. Allen.”
It is the funds that were provided by the UMKC Law and the greater Kansas City legal communities that in addition to necessities, also gave Allen the clothes he wore to court.
“To be able to witness Mr. Allen’s release, to see him hug his mother and sister for the first time in 30 years, and to be able to shake his hand and experience his happiness and gratitude, is an experience I will always remember,” Hess said.
For more coverage of this story, watch KMBC’s video report.