The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Lawmakers Vote To Stop Funding Panel On Police Torture

By aaroncynic in News on Jun 6, 2012 8:20PM

Last week, the Illinois legislature voted to pull funding for the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission, the Chicago Tribune reports. Officials from the panel, established in 2009 by Gov. Pat Quinn, announced yesterday that after it refers cases to a Cook County judge, it will shut down. The Governor’s office said the Commission’s budget, a scant $235,000, was appropriate, but it can’t restore funding. The eight members who sit on the panel received no payment for their time.

David Thomas, executive director, told the Trib, “Theoretically, you still have a torture commission. So they can feel good about themselves but not spend any money to fulfill the promise.”

The mission of the Commission was to investigate allegations that police officers like former Lt. Jon Burge forced confessions from suspects through torture tactics. Numerous men, many of whom are still in prison, accused Burge and others of beating, burning and shocking confessions out of the accused in order to obtain confessions to crimes they did not commit. According to the Washington Post, more than 100 people have filed claims with the commission, and it’s estimated at least a third of those claims have merit.

Chief Judge Timothy Evans will assign five cases the commission has so far found credible, and the it will close its doors. The cut in funding is part of numerous budget cuts statewide. The Washington Post reports State Senator Dan Duffy said “there are far too many boards and commissions in this state doing far too little work to justify their enormous cost to taxpayers.” Others, however disagree. Mark Clements of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression said legislators should be “ashamed.” Senator Kwame Raoul said “with the documented history of torture in our Police Department, you’d think it would be enough of a priority to make sure there was funding.”