John Burge...Guilty on all counts!

Jesse Jackson celebrating the verdict.
By: Mark Clements

After years of struggle in the streets and in the courtroom, Jon Burge has finally been found guilty of obstruction of justice and perjury in relation to the police torture he presided over in Chicago. 

For more than two decades, Burge and a ring of detectives working under his command inflicted torture upon criminal suspects inside Chicago interrogation rooms. This torture resulted in the forced confessions of over 200 African American and Latino men. Many of the men have since been freed, but 23 remain incarcerated in Illinois prisons. Twenty-one of the men are serving sentences from 60 years to natural life in prison. 

Because of a bogus statute of limitations, Burge could not be charged with the tortures. In a special prosecutor’s report released in 2006, it was determined that Burge and his men beat and tortured criminal suspects at an epidemic level. Evidence has shown that many of the men tortured were innocent of the crimes they were imprisoned for. Although he could not be convicted of torture, Burge was convicted of two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury on June 28, 2010.

Although Burge has been convicted of lying and covering up the tortures that occurred under his command, he still continues to receive a city pension from taxpayers of more that $3,700 per month. The City of Chicago recently decided it would continue to pay for Burge’s legal fees arising from lawsuits. And the Fraternal Order of Police has decided to pay for Burge’s federal criminal defense, totaling over a million dollars. This continues to be an outrage to the victims and to many within the Black and Latino communities. 

Other city officials were complicit in Burge’s reign of torture. Mayor Richard M. Daley was Cook County state’s attorney from 1980 until 1988 and prosecuted many of the torture victims. There is evidence that Daley knew of the torture, but never called for an investigation of the Chicago Police Department. The CEDP, along with other organizations, now demands that Daley finally do the right thing and call on current prosecutors to grant new hearings for the torture victims who remain incarcerated. 

Even after Burge was fired in 1993, many of the detectives who had worked under him continued to torture criminal suspects at Areas Two and Three Violent Crime Units. Therefore, we insist that the Police Accountability Board make rulings on other cases of torture to expose the true depths of how widespread the occurrence of these tortures is. 

The CEDP continues to fight for justice. We organized a panel on September 10 that included torture victims Mark Clements, Marvin Reeves, Ronnie Kitchen and Darrell Cannon, and family members of Stanley Howard and Javan Deloney. At the panel, we spoke about next steps now that Burge has been convicted. We also rallied outside the James R. Thompson Center to urge Attorney General Lisa Madigan to grant new hearings for the men who remain wrongfully imprisoned.

Although Burge’s conviction was a huge step forward, our fight is far from over. Burge’s sentencing takes place on November 5, 2010, and the CEDP will work to see that not only is Burge put behind bars where he belongs, but that the men who remain in prison, convicted under tortured confessions, are able to come home where they belong.

As the New Abolitionist was being produced, Victor Safforld, also known as Cortez Brown, was released from prison after serving 20 years. Victor was a member of the Death Row Ten and had been tortured by Burge’s detectives into falsely confessing. WELCOME HOME VICTOR!


One of the 23 torture Victims speaks

My name is Stanley Wrice. I was tortured at Area 2 violent crimes unit on September 9, 1982. After being beaten twice by detectives, I gave a false statement to the state’s attorney that I raped a woman. That statement sent me to prison with a life without parole sentence. The only other evidence against me was the unreliable testimony of an admitted liar, who was also beaten and made to give a false statement against me.

A criminologist from the police department conducted a swab and smear specimen test, which revealed there was no presence of male sperm.

I have been denied justice for more than 27 years. The Illinois court system, at all levels, refuses to correct the injustice. The cover-ups and injustices continue to this very day, as I remain trapped within the walls of the Pontiac Correctional Center.

Stanley Wrice, Reg. No. A63903

Pontiac Correctional Center

P.O. Box 99

Pontiac, IL 61764