UPDATED! Chicago Will Pay $5.5 Million in "Reparations" to Victims of Police Torture


Updated, 3:47 p.m.: As a couple of readers point out in the comments section, Chicago has paid out $521 million in police abuse fines and settlements over the past decade alone. None of that money has come directly from the Chicago Police Department's budget or retirement funds.

Washington Post, via Alan Vanneman:

Whenever Chicago Police commander Jon Burge needed a confession, he would walk into the interrogation room and set down a little black box, his alleged victims would later tell prosecutors. The box had two wires and a crank. Burge, they alleged, would attach one wire to the suspect's handcuffed ankles and the other to his manacled hands. Then, they said, Burge would place a plastic bag over the suspect's head. Finally, he would crank his little black box and listen to the screams of pain as electricity coursed through the suspect's body.

Burge and officers under his control were accused of torturing suspects between 1972 and 1991, when he was suspended. Two years later, reports The Chicago Sun-Times, he was fired.

One week after winning Chicago's first mayoral runoff, [Rahm] Emanuel agreed to create a $5.5 million "reparations" fund to compensate victims allegedly tortured by Burge and his Area 2 cohorts.

The compensation was negotiated with and agreed to by attorneys representing torture victims who couldn't sue because the statute of limitations had run out….

The city has pegged the number of potential recipients at 55. Plaintiffs attorneys have said it could be as high as 65. Individual awards will be capped at $100,000. Disputes will be resolved by an independent arbitrator, most probably a former federal judge.

Burge was eventually found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice and sentenced to federal prison in 2011 and released last year.

The dollar amounts are measly, to be sure, but represent at least some form of acceptance of guilt and resolve not to repeat the cycle endlessly:

"My goal is to both close this book, the Burge book on the city's history, close it and bring closure for the victims. And make sure that we take this as a city and learn from it about what we have to do going forward because the police department is about public safety, community policing and building trust," Emanuel told reporters Tuesday.

Here's hoping that next up on Emanuel's to-do list is a thorough end to Chicago police's use of "black sites" for holding suspects incommunicado such as the one that recently came to light.