Two weeks before former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge is scheduled to leave prison for a halfway house, advocates for victims of police torture are continuing to push for reparations for Burge torture victims who didn’t get compensation through the courts.
If the ordinance is enacted, a commission will be set up to check the validity of claims.
Although Burge’s official out date for his 4 1/2-year sentence is Feb. 15, he is scheduled to move to the halfway house on Oct. 2.
Although some Burge victims have received large settlements, others never were compensated because their deadlines for seeking compensation expired before abuses by Burge and his Midnight Crew came to light. Advocates want the City Council to set up a reparations fund of $20 million, which would equal about how much the city spent defending Burge. The proposed ordinance has been signed by 25 aldermen, which is one short of a majority.
The scope of police torture under Burge is not fully known. The courts have appointed David Yellen, dean and professor of Law at Loyola University Chicago, to see if there are victims who meet the critieria set by the courts for proving torture other than the 20 or so men whose names are already known. The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission, with a slightly broader mandate, also is sifting through complaints to see who has credible stories of torture by Burge and his henchmen.
But those inquiries exclude victims of torture by police other than Burge and his associates, which is unfortunate because Chicago has a long history of abusing suspects. Back in the 1930s, for example, the “Scotland Yard” unit had a torture chamber on the second floor of a police station at Canalport and Halsted. Before that, police had a torture chamber called the “blue room” in the 1890s and early 1900s in the Harrison Street station, according to author Richard Lindberg in his book “To Serve and Collect.”
One example of an alleged torture victim whose case was not connected to Burge is that of Jaime Hauad. Hauad contends he was beaten by Joseph Miedzianowksi, who went on to be labeled the most corrupt cop in Chicago history and who is serving a life sentence. In June, TIRC concluded it had no authority to pursue the case — even though, TIRC said, there’s strong evidence that police tortured Hauad while he was in custody and some evidence that he may be entirely innocent — because Burge and his associates were not involved.
Hauad’s case now is being reviewed by the Cook County state’s attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit.
Read a June 26 Chicago Sun-Times editorial on Jaime Hauad here.