Illinois lawmakers look to cut funds for police torture panel

June 5, 2012

The Associated Press

Police torture victims in Illinois prisons may be losing their last chance to have their cases reviewed as lawmakers look to cut funding for the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission.

The Commission was established a couple years ago to look into cases where men said they were tortured by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and his subordinates. The commission can look at the cases of men who may have exhausted all their other legal options, and given what we now know about police torture, their once incredible claims now require a second look.

The commission needs about 250 thousand dollars a year and the state is eliminating its funding says David Thomas, the commission's director.

“If we know that torture took place and we know that people are in prison as a result of that torture, how can we sit on our hands and not do anything,” says Thomas.

Thomas says about a hundred inmates are claiming they were tortured. He says the commission has investigated 40 cases and would need just two more years to investigate the rest. Of the nine cases completed Thomas says the commission denied the petitions of four inmates but affirmed that the convictions of five others rely on confessions that were coerced.