THE CAMPAIGN

THE DEMANDS

The Campaign to Free Incarcerated Survivors of Police Torture (CFIST) is a group of survivors, family members, and advocates of justice, concerned for the well-being and dignity of those who have suffered at the hands of the criminal legal system.

 

We seek to free all survivors of police torture and wrongful conviction, and to ensure their health, support, and success upon release. We work towards the vision of a humane, bottom-up, community focused transformative justice system, within which police are held accountable for their human rights violations.

 

Our values of collective liberation, healing, and community guide our work, through which we contribute to dismantling white supremacy and the destruction it has caused in our society, particularly in the case of mass incarceration. We seek to continue the legacy of our ancestors and freedom fighters before us in this work towards justice and liberation until we are all free.

 

 

Our immediate demands are:

1.

That the Governor immediately grant pardons for all those whose cases

have been deemed credible cases of torture by the governor-appointed

Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC).

2.

That the State’s Attorney immediately move to vacate convictions for all those

framed, tortured and wrongfully convicted, particularly cases involving

detectives where an established pattern of torture, forced confession and

wrongful convictions holds, as clearly outlined in our comprehensive report.

Why Pressure the State’s Attorney

 

The State’s Attorney’s Office holds the power to vacate the convictions of survivors of police torture and wrongful conviction. The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression supports the steps State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has taken in a record number of cases of wrongful conviction. We push back against the political attacks on SA Foxx by reactionary elements ranging from white supremacists and the leadership of the Fraternal Order of Police to the “business as usual” elements of the Democratic Party.

 

We are also devoted to organizing the people to struggle to undo injustice at the hands of the criminal justice system. We are not lawyers, and we cannot represent anyone in court. Hundreds of survivors of police torture and frame-ups and their families have come to us in the hope that we can help them find answers to their questions about their cases and become part of this movement. Families deserve to know the status of the cases of their loved ones. 

 

SA Foxx’s work so far has been good, but she continues to oppose the reopening of the cases of Juan and Rosendo Hernandez and Daniel Rodriguez. In this group of cases, frustration of police torture survivors and their families is reaching a boiling point. 

 

It has been impossible for many of these men and women to get reports on the status of their cases. Survivors and their families have tried every legal means available to them to free and vacate the convictions of their loved ones. They ask their attorneys or the people with whom they’ve filed claims for status reports and don’t get a response. People have a right to know what’s happening, and the process is much too slow. Patience is easy for people who have not been in prison for decades for something they didn’t do. This endless delay is causing tremendous mental and physical trauma for survivors and their families. People feel they’re being played by the system.

 

We believe the demands to vacate convictions is appropriate. We urge State’s Attorney Foxx to support these demands. The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression along with our ally organizations will continue to mobilize people to win these demands and free survivors of torture and wrongful conviction. All who support justice are welcome to join us.

Why Pressure the Governor

 

Governor Pritzker has the power to right this wrong with the stroke of a pen and use his executive authority to release those who have been wrongfully convicted due to police torture. Governor Pritzker, the people of Illinois call on you to use your power and pardon all police torture survivors now, before it's too late! 

Why Amend the TIRC

 

The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (“TIRC”) was created in 2009 to review claims of police torture in Illinois and to make findings about whether those claims are credible. The TIRC Act currently excludes many cases of torture based on location, timing, and the lack of an appropriate definition of “torture.”

 

The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and the Chicago Torture Justice Center have proposed amending the TIRC Act to address these shortcomings. In February 2021, our proposed changes were introduced as legislation in the Illinois General Assembly. If passed, Senate Bill 2119 would amend the TIRC Act in the following ways.

Amendment 1. Updating the Definition of Torture

The first proposed amendment explicitly defines torture by adopting the definition of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (“CAT”), which has been ratified by the United States Senate and is U. S. law. This definition is already incorporated into federal law because the United States signed the CAT and ratified it. For example, under the current definition, if a witness was tortured into accusing the wrong person and that person is convicted, that does not count as torture. Under the UN’s definition, it does.

 

Amendment 2. Expanding the Geographical Scope

The second proposed amendment expands the geographical scope of claims of torture. Currently, the TIRC Act only applies to torture that occurred within a county of more than three million inhabitants, i.e. Cook County. This amendment would remove that restriction and would therefore apply the TIRC Act to the entire state. Torture is wrong no matter where it happens.

 

Amendment 3. Removing the Time Restriction

The third proposed amendment removes the restriction that persons must have filed their claims of torture within 10 years from the establishment of the TIRC, which was in 2009. A claim of torture should not be time-barred, especially because most people with claims of torture are incarcerated and may not have heard about the TIRC or had the access to be able to file a claim.

 

Amendment 4. Adopting a Two-Year Timeline for Claims

The fourth proposed amendment explicitly mandates that TIRC make it its goal to complete credibility reviews within two years of receiving a claim of torture. It also requires TIRC to submit budget proposals reflecting the resources needed to complete all credibility reviews within two years of receiving a claim. That means that if the TIRC needs more funding to be able to decide on claims within two years, they are required to report this, and we can continue our fight to get TIRC the funding it needs.

 

To view the bill status and full text of SB 2119, please visit this link

 

 

 

   

Who Supports Us

Our campaign has the support of a wide range of individuals and organizations throughout Chicago and beyond. Below is an incomplete and growing list:

Arab American Action Network

Black Lives Matter, Chicago

Chicago Metropolitan Association, Illinois Conference, United Church of Christ

Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America

Chicago Torture Justice Center

Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine

Jewish Voice for Peace

Innocent Demand Justice

Rev. Julian DeShazier, Senior Pastor University Church, Chicago

Equity and Transformation, Chicago

Interfaith Action Group on Peace and Justice in Israel

Jewish Council on Urban Affairs

Alice Kim, Director of Human Rights Practice,

Pozen Family Center, University of Chicago

Mamas Activating Movements for Abolition and Solidarity

Rev. Dr. Aaron J. McLeod, Esq., Pastor,

Gorham United Methodist Church

Rev. Dr. Waltrina N. Middleton, Executive Director,

Community Renewal Society

Rev. James Moody, Pastor, Quinn Chapel, Chicago

Rev. Otis Moss, III, Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ

Dian Palmer, President, SEIU L 73

Parole Illinois

Aislinn, Pulley, Co-Executive Director of the

Chicago Torture Justice Center, Black Live Matter Chicago

Bill Ryan, Pathway to Community 

Service Employees International Union Local 73

US Palestinian Community Network

Uptown Peoples Law Center, Alan Mills, Executive Director

Rob Warden, Co-founder, Injustice Watch, Executive Director Emeritus of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

Tanya Watkins, Executive Director,

Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL)