In an effort to address the pain of dozens of torture victims who experienced brutal treatment at the hands of former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his “midnight crew” of rogue detectives, city leaders have proposed a $5.5 million sweeping reparations package, reports the Chicago Tribune.
The proposal, expected to be passed by the city council, was negotiated by an attorney for a key plaintiff and stems from complaints by dozens of mostly African-American men who were tortured by Burge and his detectives between early 1972 to late 1991.
Burge had gained a reputation for solving brutal murders, rapes and deadly arsons in some of the South Side’s most violent neighborhoods by obtaining confessions, notes the report.
But by all accounts most of them were coerced confessions that came under brutal circumstances, including suffocation, electric shock and even Russian roulette. Claims were routinely ignored by Cook County prosecutors and rebuffed by criminal court judges, according to the Tribune.
Other inmates who have made torture claims continue to fight to overturn convictions and win their freedom. And one lawsuit over the torture is pending, the report says.
Besides money, the sweeping reparations proposal, supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, would offer free city college tuition for those victims who can prove torture. The men and their families will be provided with free counseling for psychological issues and substance abuse, as well as other assistance to more than 50 potential victims, writes the news publication.
From the Chicago Tribune:
The city would also issue a formal apology, create a permanent memorial recognizing the victims and ensure that eighth- and 10th-grade students attending Chicago Public Schools would be taught about the Burge case and its brutal legacy, cementing the scandal’s role in city history.
But as much as the proposal seeks to end a painful, controversial era — Emanuel said it would “close this book, the Burge book on the city’s history” — it is unlikely to stanch the flow of torture claims from victims. A Loyola University Chicago law school dean appointed by a Cook County judge has identified some 20 additional cases in which inmates may have been Burge victims. Other inmates who have made torture claims continue to fight to overturn convictions and win their freedom. And one lawsuit over the torture is pending.
Already, this stubborn scandal has cost taxpayers about $100 million in lawsuit settlements, judgments and other legal costs, according to lawyers.
Burge was convicted in 2010 of perjury in civil proceedings for lying about torture he oversaw. He was released from prison to a halfway house in October after serving less than four years in prison.
Burge was released from the halfway house earlier this year.