CHICAGO (CBS) — The city has paid out more than $83 million in settlements to suspects who have claimed they were tortured by detectives under the command of disgraced Cmdr. Jon Burge, but some aldermen are pushing for an ordinance that would provide even more financial aid and other assistance to police torture victims.
Joey Mogul, an attorney with the People’s Law Office – which has represented several alleged Burge victims – said the ordinance would establish a $20 million fund to help torture victims, and their families.
“It serves as a formal apology for the Chicago police torture cases. It creates a commission that would provide financial reparations to the torture survivors. It creates a … center on the South Side of Chicago to provide psychological counseling, health care, and vocational training,” she said.
Attorney Flint Taylor, a founding partner of the People’s Law Office, said the $20 million figure was not arbitrary – claiming the city has spent that much defending Burge, other detectives, and former Mayor Richard M. Daley in court.
Ald. Proco Joe Moreno, who co-sponsored the ordinance, said most of the victims’ families are poor, or otherwise “living in terrible conditions.”
According to news reports, the city already has paid more than $83 million in legal settlements for lawsuits filed by people who have claimed Burge and his detectives tortured them into giving false confessions in rape and murder cases.
Anthony Holmes, who testified against Burge at the federal trial that led to Burge’s conviction for lying about torture, said he lost contact with his family while serving a 30-year prison term for a murder he did not commit. Holmes said he only confessed to the killing after Burge brutalized him during an interrogation in 1973.
He claimed Burge shocked him three times with a homemade electrical device, and suffocated him with a bag.
“They convicted him, gave him 4 ½ years. Compared to my 30, that’s like a drop in the hat, but hey, it’s better than nothing,” he said.
He said he hopes the ordinance is approved, “because people like myself, and others, need it bad.”
Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), one of the lead sponsors, was asked if the proposal has any chance of passing the City Council.
“I think that anything that we file for, we’ve been able to get some measure of success,” he said.
The ordinance also would provide free enrollment at City Colleges of Chicago for torture survivors.