Written by attorney Terry S. Lu

William Dukes was incarcerated for 15 years, 6 months, 2 days, and 45 minutes for a crime he didn’t commit. 

In 1993, a grandmother and her granddaughter were discovered dead in a bathtub. Based upon questionable witness testimony, the police focused their investigation on William. The police repeatedly pulled him into the station for questioning, interrogated him, dropped in on him unannounced at work, talked with the people who lived and worked around him, and generally made his life difficult. As a result of their investigation and these constant disruptions, William lost his job and his home. He was made to feel isolated from those around him. He was no longer welcome anywhere.

When he was eventually arrested and sentenced to life in prison, William felt like he had lost everything. He had tried to do the right thing in cooperating with the investigation. He had nothing to do with the murders. He had an alibi for the day on which the double homicide had occurred. And now he was being arrested and asked to stand trial? William was tired. But soon the fatigue gave way to anger. William was angry at his situation, angry at the people who had put him there, and, most of all, angry at God.

Why was God allowing this to happen to him?

William grew up in church. He remembers reading Bible stories and praying to God. But as he got older, drugs and alcohol got in the way, and he lost touch with his faith. The change didn’t happen overnight. It wasn’t sudden. Over time, after being away for so long, William felt like God just stopped existing.

But now William was angry at God.

The anger raged inside of him. Then, it was suddenly interrupted by a single thought: “If I’m mad at God, then He must exist.” William tracked down a Bible. He didn’t know where to begin reading, so he flipped to a random page and started there. He immediately felt a sense of peace come over him. Recalling his experiences growing up, he began to pray again. Every time the anger or depression would sneak up and nip at him, William would flip open the Bible and pray. And, time and time again, a deep sense of peace and tranquility would come over him. He would always open the Bible to a random location, but the passage would miraculously speak to his circumstances. Though he was isolated and locked behind bars, William did not feel alone. He felt like God was with him in the midst of his struggles. Despite the unfairness and unbearableness of his situation, God helped William to relax and have patience.

On July 11, 2019, William was finally released from his wrongful incarceration after having his sentence overturned. Instead of being bitter, he credits his incarceration for helping him to reconnect with his faith. He thanks God for carrying him though an intensely challenging and difficult time in his life. It would have been easy to give up hope, but William knows God sustained him and protected him during his incarceration. As someone with an unexplained 15-year gap in work history and housing, William’s struggles are nowhere near over. It has been difficult for him to find consistent work and a permanent residence. However, William continues to believe and trust in God’s guidance and provision. The same God who was with William behind bars continues to be with him on the outside today.

“No matter how hard things get, you can’t lose faith. You’ve got to maintain your patience. And the only way to do that is through the Word, prayer, and meditation,” William said.

The attorneys at Mauck & Baker have the privilege of representing William Dukes in addressing alleged deficiencies in the medical care he received while he was a pre-trial detainee in the Cook County Department of Corrections prior to his release.

Please join us in prayer for William’s continued perseverance.