According to the
, the Chicago City Council approved an unprecedented ordinance Wednesday to compensate the victims of Police Commander Jon Burge and his “midnight crew,” who allegedly tortured at least 119 crime suspects in order to extract confessions over a period of 20 years. Many of the torture victims were later found to be innocent.
From 1972 through 1991, Burge and his officers used methods including electrocution, suffocation and burning with cigarettes during interrogations, according to a civil suit ruling. Burge was fired in 1993 after a Chicago Police Department review board confirmed that his officers had engaged in torture. Neither Burge nor the officers in his command have faced criminal charges in relation to the allegations, but Burge served four and a half years in federal prison for lying about his knowledge of the torture.
According to the author of the ordinance, attorney Joey Mogul, 16 of the torture victims were later exonerated in their cases. An additional 25 people—who are believed to be innocent— are behind bars after confessing to crimes during interrogations by Burge and his officers.
Survivors of the torture will be paid up to $100,000 each from a $5.5 million city fund. In order to receive the reparations, victims must agree to waive their claims against the city. The city will also provide the victims and their families with free education from Chicago City Colleges, offer psychological counseling, erect a memorial monument dedicated to the victims and teach about the scandal in Chicago public schools.
“We can start using this [ordinance] as a model across the country,” Mogul told the
. “And also start saying to the federal government — it’s not just cities and municipalities that should recognize human rights violations and pay for these reparations services or make these apologies — but the feds should start pitching in as well.”