Investigate Allegations of Torture by Illinois Police

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Target: The Illinois State Legislature

Goal: Restore funding for the inquiry into allegations that police tortured dozens of confessions from suspects.

In 2009, allegations of torture began to surface against Chicago police officers. Dozens of suspects came forward, alleging that Chicago police – led by Lt. Jon Burge, who is currently serving time in federal prison – elicited their confessions through torture.

Over 100 Illinois citizens, most of whom are currently imprisoned, have accused the Chicago police department of eliciting confessions through torture; these people claim that CPD officers used a combination of beatings and electric shocks to force their confessions, thus leading them to be falsely imprisoned. While a single allegation of police brutality by suspects is neither uncommon nor particularly convincing, a pattern of police torture is very worrying and requires an immediate inquiry.

The Illinois Torture and Relief Commission, created in 2009 by the Illinois legislature, has been tasked with investigating the allegations of police torture against the CPD. The Illinois Torture and Relief Commission consists of eight experts who review all potential cases of police torture in order to determine the validity of the accusations; this commission only investigates the accusation of torture against the police, and does not review the guilt of the plaintiff or the other evidence of the case.

Out of the nine cases that this commission has heard, five cases demonstrated inappropriate action by the police and provided grounds to retry the accused. Currently, over 100 allegations of police torture have been made against the CPD. Considering the fact that more than half of the investigated allegations have been deemed legitimate, it appears that Chicago police may have elicited dozens of confessions by way of torture.

Despite the obvious need for continued torture investigations, the Illinois state legislature defunded the Illinois Torture and Relief Commission in the first week of June 2012, essentially killing it. Without funding, this commission will do no further investigation and those who were tortured into confessions will languish in jail for the remainder of their sentences. The legislature cut funding for the commission based upon the justification of cutting waste from the budget.

Put plainly, investigating allegations of police torture, and ensuring that innocent citizens have not been tortured into confessing crimes that they did not commit, should be top priorities. The state should not cut funding for this commission, even in the face of a budget shortfall. This petition is directed at the Illinois state legislature and is intended to convince them to return funding to the Illinois Torture and Relief Commission.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Illinois State Legislature,

In an attempt to bridge your state’s budget gap, you defunded the Illinois Torture and Relief Commission. This commission was formed in 2009 and has been tasked with investigating allegations of police torture against the Chicago police department. Over a hundred Illinois residents accuse CPD of torturing false confessions out of them and, without the commission, there will be no further investigations as to the validity of their claims.

If the Chicago police department, or even just a small segment of it, had a policy of torturing confessions out of suspects, it would create a serious problem for the police and a tremendous injustice for the tortured. Investigating allegations of torture is absolutely vital to preserve the legitimacy of the justice system, as well as ensure that innocent men are not wrongly imprisoned.

Based upon past investigations by the Illinois Torture and Relief Commission, it is likely that some of the accusations are false, but the fact remains that over half of such accusations likely have merit. With evidence of such a serious and widespread problem, this is not the time to stop the investigation, even if it is expensive.

I, as well as everybody else to sign this petition, implore you to restore funding to the Illinois Torture and Relief Commission. The state budget must be balanced, but not at the expense of the integrity of the justice system. If we believe that innocents are serving time in jail due to confessions elicited under torture, there is no excuse for stopping funding of this investigation.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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61 Signatures

  • Hermann Kastner
  • Eric von Borstel
  • Mal Gaff
  • Terrie Phenicie
  • Terrie Phenicie
  • Holly Hall
  • Jutta Taraniuk
  • Melanie waleski
  • Ricki Newman
  • sundriya grubb
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