Editorial: Justice after Burge is dragging once again
Editorials March 5, 2013 3:54PM
Ex-Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge
Updated: April 7, 2013 6:26AM
The wheels of justice grind slowly, but sometimes they don’t seem to be moving at all.
Exhibit A: The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission.
The commission is supposed to be investigating the stories of about 100 men who say they are languishing in prison as a result of statements extracted through torture by former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his Midnight Crew in the 1970s and 1980s.
But last summer, the Legislature let funding lapse, though the commission’s early findings turned up five cases in which torture claims appeared to be credible. The wheels of justice stopped.
In October, Gov. Pat Quinn got those wheels going again by getting the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority to agree to hand over a $160,000 grant to the commission.
Now the hand-off shouldn’t be so hard, right? It’s just a simple transfer of funds from one state agency to another. But here it is March, and the money hasn’t showed up yet.
On Wednesday, everyone will be focused on much bigger financial issues as Quinn outlines his state budget for the next fiscal year. The number of dollars involved here may seem like peanuts.
But these men, all African Americans, have been behind bars for decades. If any of them are innocent, more delay is inexcusable. We know now — as we didn’t when these men went to trial — that Burge’s crew used torture to extract statements.
The latest delay appears to be simply a bureaucratic snafu. But come on. The commission has been in mothballs for more than eight months. Illinois should be able to do better than that. Somebody needs to get those wheels of justice moving again,