Torture panel hires interim executive director

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The saga over at the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission took another twist Tuesday as the commission hired James Sledge as an interim executive director for the next 60 days.

During those 60 days, the commission is expected to interview candidates for the permanent job.

James Sledge

Sledge replaces David Thomas, who was forced out under pressure from Gov. Pat Quinn and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. Thomas was criticized because the commission’s two-person staff did not notify some victims’ families of proceedings, as required by law.

Sledge is a former senior vice president/chief of administration for the CTA, former director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, former director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security and former executive director of the Illinois Human Rights Commission. He doesn’t have a background in criminal law,  torture cases or investigations except from 1995 to 2003 in the Cook County state’s attorney’s domestic violence division, where he specialized in child support enforcement and domestic violence.

The commission was set up to examine claims by prisoners who say the statements that put them behind bars were extracted through torture in the 1970s and 1980s by former Chicago Police Lt. Jon Burge and his police associates. Any claims that the commission finds to be credible are referred to Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans for further review.

Read a Sept. 25 Sun-Times story about the commission here.

Read a Sept. 25 Sun-Times editorial here.

Read Eric Zorn’s blog post here.

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