Torture in Chicago: The Burge Cases

When people think of torture, they think it is happening in a remote place, some desert in Iraq or Afghanistan, but it also happens within the perimeter of the United States right here in Chicago.

The two Burge cases settled in July 2012 deal with two men who faced police brutality and torture under former Chicago Police Commander Burge in the 1980s.

These cases prove that torture not only has an emotional and physical cost, but also has a huge monetary cost attached.

Litigation and settlement costs are almost at $40 million, with around $7 million being spent on monetary reparations for the two torture victims of the Burge cases. That's $40 million dollars taken away from a city that is perpetually in need of it. A city so cash strapped that it closes mental health clinics to save $3 million. The full number of clinics (12) could have been funded for an extra 13 years with the money that went towards the torture cases.

This article isn't being written to suggest that victims of torture should stay quiet and not pursue any type of litigation. They should.  (Check out People's Law Office Chicago for assistance.)  It is suggesting that the city, or anyone for that matter, should NOT torture its citizens. If the moral implications of torture aren't enough to convince the authorities not to do it, maybe the staggering monetary costs that go with litigation when the torture victims know their rights will.

The two victims receiving compensation from the July settlement are representative of over 100 similar police brutality accusations from the '80s under Cmdr. Burge. If they all go to trial, assuming similar costs to these two cases, that would be over $300 million in settlement costs alone and over a billion dollars in sheer litigation costs. What is the city going to cut from the budget then? The police department so there won't be the possibility for more institutional torture cases?


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