Yesterday, a federal jury found former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge guilty of three counts of obstruction of justice and perjury for lying under oath about the pattern and practice of torturing criminal African American suspects during his two decades with the department.
Four years ago, a special prosecutor ruled that Burge and several detectives tortured more than 100 suspects into confessing to crimes between 1972 and 1991, which led to his termination from the Chicago Police Department in 1993. The statute of limitations on the claims of torture had already expired, but in 2008, federal prosecutors indicted Burge because he had allegedly lied about the brutal misconduct. The Chicago Tribune reports:
The torture scandal sent innocent men to prison, tarnished the reputations of the Police Department and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and led to blanket commutations that emptied the state’s death row as well as repeated lawsuits that drained millions in taxpayer dollars from the city.
Burge faces up to 45 years in prison under the federal criminal statutes, but his attorneys will seek probation.
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False confession has been a factor in
25% of wrongful convictions
overturned through DNA testing to date, and coercion by police played a role in many of these cases. Illinois is now one of 17 states that require police departments to record interrogations, at least in some investigations.
Learn more about reforms to prevent false confessions here