On July 15, 2022, having been granted new trials by the Illinois appellate court on the basis of actual innocence, John Galvan and Arthur Almendarez walked out of jail after each having spent 35 years locked up in the Illinois prison system. They spent more than three decades serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for a crime they did not commit. On July 21, 2022, this nightmare finally ended when the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office agreed to drop its effort to retry them. However, they now face the daunting task of rebuilding their lives.
John and Arthur were convicted of starting a 1986 fire that killed two men in Chicago. Their convictions rested on false confessions police obtained through torture and coercion. An Illinois appellate court recognized that other than these confessions, the case against them was “nonexistent.” John Galvan was just 18 when he was arrested, and Arthur Almendarez 20. While they were in prison, they not only lost their freedom but their parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and friends. What they did not lose, though, was their desire to be free. John filed motions on his behalf until he found help from legal counsel. Then, together John and Arthur and their lawyers from the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, the Innocence Project and the Exoneration Project fought their case over the course of 21 years and three appeals. They never gave up and, through their counsel, presented compelling evidence of their innocence to the courts, including overwhelming evidence that their confessions were the result of torture by Chicago police detectives who had similarly tortured other suspects.
John and Arthur are grateful to have their freedom but trying to restart their lives when they walked out of prison with nothing will be hard. They welcome any support anyone can offer to help them get back on their feet after enduring so much injustice. They plan to split any funds raised here evenly between them, and use the money to help cover basic expenses as they seek employment, find housing, and figure out what the future holds for them. Thank you for anything you can give to help them in this effort. Welcome home, John and Arthur!