Attorney Flint Taylor Statement on Jon Burge Sentencing
Judge Lefkow showed courage in the findings that she made in her sentencing decision and in doubling the sentence that was suggested by the Federal Sentencing guidelines. Her findings that the torture scandal demonstrated a “dismal failure of leadership,” specifically citing the Chicago Police Department and the States Attorneys Office, that the torture was covered up for many years, and that this scandal poisoned the entire Cook County criminal justice system validate many of our long professed claims, including that SA Daley and ASA Devine and the City should have investigated, fired, and prosecuted Burge in 1982, and, if they had, scores of men would not have been tortured, and been sent to prison, a substantial number of whom were sent to death row, on the basis of false, tortured confessions.
Additionally, if Burge had been prosecuted for torture in the 1980’s, rather than for obstruction of justice and perjury in 2010 – – -the only charges that could be brought due to the statute of limitations – – – the sentence would have been much longer and more suited to his crimes against humanity. While the conviction and sentence reflects late and incomplete justice, and it is clear that there remains much left to accomplish in this fight, the Judge’s decision nonetheless is a powerful condemnation of all those implicated in the decades long torture scandal.
Moving forward, we must continue to demand indictments for those who worked for and with Burge. There must be new hearings and trials for all the men who were tortured into confessing by Burge and his men. The Mayoral candidates must address the issue of torture, the jury’s verdict, and the Judge’s pointed findings, and commit to apologizing to the torture survivors, their families, and the African American community, to immediately terminating financing of Burge’s defense in the torture victims’ civil cases, (now at $12 mil), to admitting in all pending civil cases that there was a policy and practice of torture and abuse under Burge, and to offering just settlements for those survivors who have legal claims, just compensation for those who do not, and psychological treatment for all Burge torture survivors.
Additionally, at the state and federal levels, there must be legislation that makes police torture a crime, and, because torture is a crime against humanity, it must be a crime without a statute of limitations. Also, those in the media and those who write history must recognize the full scope and breath of this torture scandal, a scandal that university of Chicago History Professor Adam Green cited in his testimony before Judge Lefkow as singular in its significance to the African-American community as well as to the entire City and Nation, and link the successful prosecution to the discraceful current failure to prosecute admitted torturers in the Bush administration – – – including Bush and Cheney. Additionally, history must further acknowledge the primary role that Richard Daley and Richard Devine had in the perpetration of the torture, in refusing to investigate or prosecute Burge and his torturers, and in its cover-up. The County Board and its President must take responsibility for the significant role played in the scandal by successive State’s Attorneys, from Daley to Devine, the ASAs who were implicated in facilitating the tortured confessions and in using those confessions at hearings and trials, and the Cook County Judges who, for decades and without exception, refused to recognize the torture, and, as a consequence, also share in compensating those victims of the misfeasance of these County Officials. And finally, the Fraternal Order of Police and its membership must terminate its blind support, both financial and political, for Burge and his gang of torturers.