Defense Attorneys: Go Easy On Burge

CHICAGO (CBS) — Former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, who is now facing sentencing next week for lying about the torture of suspects, says he deserves less prison time because of his military service.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Pat Cassidy reports, Burge is awaiting sentencing for his conviction for lying about the torture of suspects. The Chicago Sun-Times reports his attorneys contend he should do less than the 15 to 21 months recommended by the Probation Department.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Pat Cassidy Reports

Federal prosecutors indicate Burge should get up to 30 years in prison. They argue that Burge’s torture of prisoners seriously damaged the reputation of the Chicago Police Department.

Burge’s attorneys say he should get a break, citing his Army tours of duty in Korea and Vietnam, and his bronze star and other commendations. Also, the 63-year-old Burge is suffering from cancer.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 20, Thursday of next week.

Burge was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice on June 28, for lying in a civil suit when he denied committing or witnessing torture. More than 100 victims have said the torture started in the 1970s and persisted until the 1990s at police stations on the city’s South and West sides.

He has been free on bond since the five-week trial.

During the trial, felons described beatings, suffocations and games of Russian roulette at the hands of Burge and his men. They also heard from Burge, a decorated former officer and Vietnam veteran who repeatedly denied ever participating in physical abuse or witnessing any during his 28 years with the Police Department.

But for decades, dozens of suspects — almost all of them black men — claimed Burge and his officers tortured them into confessing to crimes ranging from armed robbery to murder.

Former Gov. George Ryan released four condemned men from death row in 2003 after Ryan said Burge had extracted confessions from them using torture.

The allegations of torture and coerced confessions eventually led to a still-standing moratorium on Illinois’ death penalty and the emptying of death row — moves credited with re-igniting the global fight against capital punishment.

But they also earned Chicago a reputation as a haven for rogue cops, a place where police could abuse suspects without notice or punishment.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Smooth

    Did Burge “go easy” on those he tortured? This is about justice and he should be grateful he doesn’t get the death penalty. What about the cops who participated in this disgraceful era, are they held accountable? These are dark times in our society and it begins with our judiciary system.

  • max

    Are you kidding? He need to be held accountable for what he diid. He need plenty of jail time.There was no justice in what he did to all the men he tortured.

  • jim

    During the last thirty years, the City of Chicago has had about 20,000 murders and at atleast 50,000 people shot and survived because of space age medical treatment curtesey of the tax payer.. Most African Americans being murdered by other African Americans. How many is Burge accused of killing? ZERO ! Now how about this: you could lay end to end the bodies of all murder victims from 138th street on the south to the Chicago city limits on the north and still have bodies left over. Burge was and is not the problem in the African American community, Stop blaming the white man and look at yourself. Stop the black on black violence and perhaps you can be taken seriously. You act as if Burge drove up to some poor black man, beat him and lock him up. Nothing is further from the truth. He apprenhended some of the most vicious punk Killers and put them where they belonged.

    • Average Guy

      We are taken seriously. This story has you “hanging it out” for a racist cop which proves that you are living in fear. Jim, why don’t you talk about whites who kill whites for no reason? Crimes in white communities where whites harm whites tend to be under-reported by the media. This jerk felt that all African-American male were criminals whether or not they committed any crime at all. So he treated him all like dirt. This jerk deserves to die in jail just like some of his innocent victims.

  • Average Guy

    This jerks meals should consist of bologna sandwiches only. Three times a day. I knew Madison Hobley. The night the fire was set. I saw Madison. He was with two of his friends. Later that evening the fire started. The next morning I found out that his wife and two daughters died in the fire along with four others. I remember the police taking him into custody with him repeating that he didn’t do this. In steps Jon Burge to give Madison Hobley the business. Next thing you know is they have a confession. Years later the first story that was circulating turns out to be the truth but the person who did it was dead. So, because the military trained him so well in torture he should be given less time?

    • KE

      I did not know of his military record —but should he be given less time, POSSIBLY.
      Being in the military back then taught soldiers different ways of handling matters — various forms of torture included

      To my knowledge, Jon Burge was never actually convicted for personally torturing a prisoner himself.

      As other have said — it was a different time back then..different techniques were used and unfortunately many innocent people got caught up in everything that was happening.

      Jon Burge will never be a role model for me. And I believe that he should be made to suffer for hlack of stopping the unethical treatment. But how much is just?

      Most of these individuals have already been reimbursed from the taxpayers — can we also have Jon Burges pensiona nd assets taken away to reimburse us?

      • Average Guy

        Yeah, you’re right. They did get paid for their time behind bars. I mean, what would they have done with their freedom anyway? They probably would have just hung out on the corner doing dope or waiting to rob some poor person anyway. So, it could not have been that bad? They weren’t in the cold. They had a place to stay. They were fed and had healthcare. So, you’re right. Burge shouldn’t even go to jail.

        C’mon! This jerko had people put on death-row. He was promoted based on some of these arrests. He made a living by locking-up most of the African-Americans who crossed his path. He fed his family at the expense of others. He should be sentenced to death-row after three to four years the state should tell me “gotcha” tell him that they are going to let him out, then tell him “gotcha” again. Repeat this every three to four years until his demise. Now there is a sentence.

  • Vicky

    Go as easy on him as he did on his victims.

  • Tom

    I was in the Cub Scouts, does that count?

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