Fifteen men are seeking another chance at freedom after decades of incarceration caused by what they say was brutal torture by the Chicago Police Department.
With the help of a legal team, the men are asking the Illinois Supreme Court for new evidentiary hearings to prove that their convictions were based on coerced confessions. Supporting the action are former governor of Illinois Jim Thompson and a host of former prosecutors, judges and lawmakers. A friend-of-the-court brief is expected to be filed Wednesday asking the court to decide whether a coerced confession can be considered a "harmless error" in a criminal trial.
At the center of the brief is Stanley Wrice, a 57-year-old inmate currently serving a 100-year sentence for murder and sexual assault. Wrice has claimed since 1982 that he was forced into confessing to the crimes after being beaten into submission by police.
Thompson told the Associated Press that the brief will "give the Illinois Supreme Court the opportunity to finally and firmly repudiate the Burge era of the Chicago Police Department.”
All of the men claim to have suffered brutal treatment by Lt. Jon Burge and other members of the Chicago Police Department under Burge’s supervision. Burge has become infamous for his 30-year tenure at the Chicago Police Department, during which more than 100 African-American and Latino men claim to have been brutalized by the force and coerced into confessing to crimes they did not commit.
Burge has never stood trial in criminal court but was convicted last year of lying about his involvement in the torture of suspects. He is currently serving a four-and-a-half-year sentence at Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina.
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