The Chicago Police Department (CPD) has a proven history of torturing Black and Latinx people into giving confessions for crimes they did not commit. Jon Burge is the most notable among these offenders. There is strong evidence that this torture continues in the CPD today at black sites such as Homan Square.
Many torture survivors are still in prison. Some of them have had their original convictions vacated, and are still in prison. Many have been in for over 25-30 years. Currently, the path out of prison for survivors of torture takes 10-15 years through the courts. This is unacceptable.
The system as it exists now is corrupt. Community action must be taken to address these wrongs. CFIST is where that community meets.
Campaign Mission Statement:
We are a group of survivors, family members, and advocates of justice. We seek to free all survivors of police torture and wrongful conviction, and to support their success upon release. Our goal is a community-focused, transformative justice system.
Illinois is the only state in the United States that has a Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC) created by statute. Chicago is the only city in the United States that has officially, by city ordinance, apologized for the systematic torture and wrongful conviction of men and women. It is the only city that has created a publicly financed fund for the payment of reparations to torture survivors.
And yet, most torture survivors remain in prison decades later. At best they have been released after serving long, unjustified sentences and are now branded as felons. One part of the issue is the lack of funding with the TIRC, which investigates claims of torture. In fact, the TIRC has a backlog of 540 cases due to a lack of resources and the enormous issue of police torture in this state. This means that, although 120 cases of police torture have been acknowledged, the number may actually be far larger than we can imagine.
Our immediate goal is to demand that Governor Pritzker use his absolute and Constitutional power of pardon to release all of the people that the TIRC has found to have credible claims of torture. You can help us pressure the governor here.
Our continued work aims to broaden the scope of what defines torture under the TIRC to include any type of physical or psychological coercion. We also believe that wrongful conviction is a form of torture itself and should be treated as such under the law.
Our overarching aim is to ensure that any person who has been tortured or wrongfully convicted is free and is treated with care and dignity upon release. We hope that all who have suffered this injustice are rehabilitated and able to return to a life of freedom and equal opportunity.
Join our decarceration week of action!
How to join CFIST
Come to our monthly meeting listed above.
Attend a (virtual) court hearing. Here's the calendar.
Our campaign is endorsed by the following:
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
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)
See the full letter here.