A few years ago, a Chicago police commander and many officers were accused of torturing suspects to elicit confessions and the state set up a commission to investigate the allegations and refer the findings to a judge. Now that the commission is ready to turn over its first reports, the state legislature is closing it down.
On Tuesday, a state commission set up to investigate claims of police torture will refer its first cases to Cook County’s chief judge, beginning to fulfill its mandate to plumb one of Chicago’s most stubborn scandals by making recommendations for legal relief.
Then it will go out of business…
Its budget last year: $150,000. Its proposed budget for the coming year, which called for adding a staff attorney: $235,000.
The state House and Senate, however, voted last week to strip the commission of its funding, meaning it will go out of business June 30, although the law that gave the commission its existence will remain on the books. The panel’s eight voting members, led by a former judge and including a former public defender and former prosecutor as well as three non-attorneys, were unpaid, said David Thomas, the executive director.
Thomas said he is unsure why the funding was cut or how it happened. He simply got notice that the money would not be there.
“It’s chump change. But we don’t have a real political constituency. Our people are all in prison,” Thomas said in an interview Monday. “Theoretically, you still have a torture commission. So they can feel good about themselves but not spend any money to fulfill the promise.”
Yeah, who cares about a little thing like justice? We must pinch our pennies.