Wrongly Convicted Database Record


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Ben Baker



Drug Related (Possession or sale)


14 years

Years Imprisoned:


Year Crime:


Year Convicted:


Year Cleared:


U.S. State or Country of Crime:


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City of Crime:



Judicially Exonerated

Summary of Case:

"Ben Baker was wrongly convicted in 2006 of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver in Chicago, Illinois. Key testimony during Baker's trial was by Chicago police Sgt. Ronald Watts, who along with members of his team, arrested Baker in March 2005. During his trial Baker testified that he wasn't dealing drugs, and that Watts had unsuccessfully tried a year earlier to pin drug charges on Baker after he refused to pay a $1,000 bribe for their protection. Baker also testified that one of Baker's subordinates told him that, "Next time we get you, it will stick." After his conviction by a jury Baker was sentenced to a 12-year prison term that he began serving in August 2006. In 2013 Watts and an officer under his command were convicted of federal corruption charges after an FBI sting snared them using their positions as police officers to extort protection money from drug dealers. In January 2014 Watts was sentenced to serve 22 months in federal prison. After Watts' conviction Baker filed a petition for a new trial based on the new evidence of Watts' unreliability as a witness, that included evidence from the FBI that at the time of his trial Watts was under investigation by the FBI for corruption identical to that alleged by Baker during his trial. One FBI report from September 2004 stated that "Watts receives weekly payments from drug dealers. These payments are typically in the amount of $5,000." After a review of Baker's case by the Conviction Integrity Unit of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, the Office decided not to oppose Baker's petition. The State's Attorney's Office also filed a motion to dismiss the charges against Baker because Watts' "provided key testimony" at Baker's 2005 trial. On January 14, 2016 a Cook County Circuit Court judge granted the petition to vacate Baker's conviction, and granted the State's Attorney's motion to dismiss the charges. Baker was immediately released from custody after serving more than nine years in prison. On March 23, 2016 the Cook County State's Attorney's motion to dismiss another drug conviction in 2006 against Baker (and his wife Clarissa Glenn) was granted, based on evidence that the arrest officer, Chicago Police sergeant Ronald Watts, had planted the drugs on them as retaliation for their refusal to pay him money. Baker's petition for a certificate of innocence was granted in February 2016, which enabled him to file a claim for compensation from the State of Illinois."

Conviction Caused By:

Perjury by Chicago Police Department Sergeant Ronald Watts two other officers who fabricated the charges against Ben Baker.

Innocence Proved By:

"On January 14, 2016 the motion by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office to dismiss the charges against Baker was granted, based on the new evidence that former Chicago police Sgt. Ronald Watts was an unreliable witness because his credibility was undermined by his conviction in 2013 of his position as a police officer to extort protection money from drug dealers."

Defendant Aided By:

The University of Chicago's Exoneration Project

Compensation Awarded:

Was Perpetrator Identified?

Age When Imprisoned:


Age When Released:





Information Source 1:

"Prosecutors in Chicago have vacated charges against a man who has served nearly a decade in prison on a drug case, By The Associated Press, January 14, 2016"

Information Location 1:


Information Source 2:

"Chicago man freed in drug case tainted by police corruption, By Annie Sweeney and Jason Meisner (Reporters), Chicago Tribune, January 15, 2016"

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Information Source 3:

"The Wrongful Conviction of Ben Baker, Exoneration Project website"

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Innocents Database Created and Maintained by Hans Sherrer innocents@forejustice.org

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