Tag Archives: Chicago

More than a quarter of Chicago county jail inmates suffer severe mental illness

By George Marlowe
June 1, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Recent reports have highlighted the fact that at least a quarter of the prison population at Chicago’s Cook County Jail suffer from serious mental health illnesses.

Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, the new head of the jail noted that out of the jail’s approximately 8,000 detainees, some 1,900 have been identified as suffering from mental illness. Dr. Nneka Jones, a 37-year-old clinical psychologist now in charge of the jail, told the press it is becoming a “social epidemic.”

In a previous interview with ThinkProgress, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart admitted, “Conservative numbers are 25, but we think it’s closer to 30 or 35 percent of our jail population that has a mental illness… so we’ve effectively become the largest mental health hospital in the country.”

Located in the highly impoverished West Side of Chicago, the dilapidated and sprawling jail is the largest single-site prison in the country. Conditions have long been dangerous and brutal for inmates, particularly the mentally ill, and are unlikely to change for the better. In a chiefly cosmetic move the Cook County sheriff appointed Dr. Nneka Jones as executive director of the facility on May 26, the first time a mental health professional has been hired to run a major US jail.

The conditions in the jail have previously been deemed so hazardous and inhumane that they were considered a violation of prisoners’ constitutional rights by federal authorities in 2008. In the last five years alone, with the deepening of the economic and social crisis, the number of inmates with mental health illnesses has more than doubled.

Cermak Health Services, the on-site hospital at the jail run by the county, suffers from extreme overcrowding and poor quality care. Most detainees with severe mental health issues are treated in an emergency triage fashion to temporarily ameliorate mental health issues with medications or to subdue detainees who have outbursts. The highly overcrowded jail and its hospital have effectively become a dumping ground for the mentally ill with no proper alternatives.

Alongside the decimation of social safety nets and the deterioration of the social conditions in Chicago, there has been a sharp increase in mental health problems. Those suffering from severe mental health illnesses—including schizophrenia, severe depression, bipolar disorders and trauma—are caught up in devastating cycles of poverty and homelessness.

Instead of providing adequate mental health services to those who need it the most, Cook County and Illinois officials have carried out severe cuts to such programs. The increasing number of people held in jail is a direct result of the bipartisan assault on access to mental health care for the indigent. With diminishing access to psychiatric beds in hospitals and community mental health centers, many of the most vulnerable are thrown into the criminal justice system and subjected to brutal treatment, which make matters worse.

According to the National Alliance of Mental Health, between 2009 and 2012 the state of Illinois made the fourth-largest cuts to such programs of any state in the country, cutting spending by 32 percent. The draconian cuts imperiled tens of thousands in need of psychiatric services, assistive community treatment, housing or crisis services.

In 2012, Chicago’s Democratic mayor, Rahm Emanuel, closed six of the city’s 12 mental health facilities. The same year Illinois Democratic Governor Pat Quinn closed the nearby Tinley Park Mental Health Center. The shuttered facility was subsequently used for urban warfare training exercises.

Current Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget for fiscal year 2016, which starts in June, targets providers of community-based health care centers for savage cuts. Rauner is calling for an $82 million reduction in funding for the Department of Human Service’s mental health division. This is a cut of 15 percent of the department’s current funding. Rauner claims this is necessary to close a $6 billion shortfall in his proposed state budget.

The cuts will eliminate funding for psychiatry, housing programs for the homeless and care coordinators who direct the mentally ill to appropriate care. Care providers have been outraged by the budget proposals and point out that many of those who desperately need care will be driven to the streets, hospital emergency rooms and prisons.

Such cuts only exacerbate the homeless crisis. An analysis by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless estimates that over 138,575 Chicagoans were homeless in the course of the 2013-14 school year, a staggering 19.4 percent increase from the previous year. That number is a direct result of the 2013 school closures, with nearly 22,144 students now considered homeless in Chicago Public Schools.

According to a report by the US Conference of Mayors, over 25 to 30 percent of those who are homeless suffer from severe mental health problems including schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. Lacking affordable housing and care, those who end up on the streets inevitably find themselves locked up in the overcrowded and brutal conditions of Cook County Jail.

One national expert on jail operations has recently testified that detainees at Cook County Jail face an “extremely high risk” of harm, making it one of the most dangerous jails in the country. According to the Chicago Tribune, during a hearing of a civil lawsuit brought by the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University, Jeffrey A. Schwartz testified that a culture of brutality exists within the prison due to “serious failures” of staff leadership exasperating the problem.

However, US District Judge Virginia Kendall denied Schwartz’s motion to require Sheriff Dart to stem the alleged “crisis of violence” in the jail. In an attempt to cover up for abuse under his watch, Dart has dismissed the allegations as a “fictitious novel” and suggested the lawsuit is unnecessary.

Far from such conditions being “fictitious,” the violent treatment of mentally disabled prisoners across the country has come under scrutiny with a recent report from Human Rights Watch. The report highlights that violent and deadly abuse is rampant in US jails and prisons all across the country.

In many respects, the clock has been turned back centuries. There are now ten times more mentally ill people in prisons than in hospitals. The availability of psychiatric beds per capita has decreased to levels before 1850—before the American Civil War—when efforts were made to treat the mentally ill in hospital settings instead of imprisoning them. In the 1800’s, efforts were made by figures such as Dorothea Dix and more far-sighted layers within the ruling class to stop the imprisonment and cruel and inhumane treatment of the mentally ill.

The growing number of detainees suffering from mental illness in Cook County jail reveals the enormous regression American society has undergone. With no answer to the vast social problems it has caused, the ruling elite and the Democratic Party political establishment that has long run America’s third largest city have no answer outside of criminalizing the poor.

Chicago mayor demands wage, benefit cuts from teachers

By Kristina Betinis
May 7, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

After saying it would not extend the current teachers’ contract for an additional year because it could not afford a three percent wage increase that would come with it, the city of Chicago is demanding sweeping concessions in talks for a new agreement. This includes a seven percent pay cut in addition to higher health care contributions and diminished pensions.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was recently re-elected in a runoff election last month, is using a largely manufactured budget crisis to demand the concessions from the city’s 32,000 teachers and other school employees whose contract expires on June 30.

The current contract was imposed after the defeat of the Chicago teachers’ strike in 2012. That struggle pitted teachers against Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff, and the assault on public education spearheaded by Obama and both big business parties in the name of “school reform.” The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) gave in to Emanuel’s demands for the expansion of testing-based teacher evaluation and loosening restrictions on teacher layoffs.

Allied with the Democratic Party, the CTU betrayed the strike, paving the way for its collaboration in a record number of public school closures and related layoffs. The year 2013 saw fifty elementary schools closed, thousands of layoffs and the dislocation of tens of thousands of students, which exacerbated overcrowding and placed additional strains on remaining teachers and staff.

In demanding the pay cut, the Emanuel administration cites a $1.1 billion Chicago Public Schools budget shortfall. Budget shortfalls and a lack of tax revenue are also being used to press for deep cuts to the teachers’ pension system. In addition, Tax Increment Financing districts siphon existing tax revenue into a mayor-controlled account used to attract investment in wealthy areas.

City estimates for teacher pension underfunding is somewhere in the region of $7 billion. As of 2014, the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund claimed 44,473 members. (See, “City worker pensions under attack”) CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey expressed hope the CTU would work with the school district in lobbying state leaders to resolve pension issues.

There have been recent calls in the Chicago Tribune and the business press, and from Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, for the Chicago Public Schools district to declare bankruptcy, with the goal of gutting the teacher pensions. Bankruptcy successfully paved the way for the slashing of pensions in Detroit, Michigan and Stockton, California.

Teacher pensions were introduced as a bargaining chip in the opening bid of the 2015 contract negotiations by none other than Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who offered last year to negotiate a cut to teacher pensions for educators who have not yet retired, a move lauded in the business press.

Last week, CTU Vice President and ISO member Jesse Sharkey sought to diminish the importance of teacher compensation, declaring, “Money is not our membership’s biggest concern right now.”

This would be news to teachers who work in a city with one of the highest costs of living in the US.

The CTU has not publicly reported any of its own wage or benefit proposals, instead referring to proposals that included smaller class sizes and the hiring of counselors and nurses, neither of which can be bargained over.

Accepting the lie used to justify cuts all over the country—that there is no money—Sharkey continued, “If the district has no money to put a counselor in a school where a half-dozen kids get shot, or not enough money to have the counselor who’s there actually counsel, then they don’t have the money for a three percent raise, do they?”

Sharkey is a leading member of the International Socialist Organization. His comments only underscore the fact that the ISO, like its pseudo-left counter-part in Greece, Syriza, functions as a faction of the bourgeois political establishment.

Last week, school officials announced the smallest capital budget in 20 years. The $160 million budget to repair the city’s many dilapidated schools is about one third of last year’s budget. While claiming there is no money to improve schools or the wages and benefits of educators, Emanuel continues to provide tax breaks to major corporate interests in the city like Boeing and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Last month, Governor Rauner approved $100 million in corporate tax cuts.

While the majority of the city’s 400,000 public school students suffer, politically-connected charter school operators and other businesses continue to siphon money. Federal corruption investigations have been opened into Emanuel’s appointee to CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, for awarding a $20.5 million no-bid contract to SUPES Academy, an education and training company for teachers and principals that Byrd-Bennett had previous business relationships with.

Rahm Emanuel, the Face of Democratic Fascism, Deserves to Lose

Police-state challenge could nurture democracy and an American Spring

By William Boardman
March 12, 2015
Dissident Voice

 

Chicago’s mayoral election may look like a local event, and the media mostly cover it as a local event, but the presence of a large, diverse, and energized opposition demanding change on basic issues of fairness and justice gives the city’s local result a potentially important, totemic meaning for the country.  The winner of the April 7 runoff election may signify whether peaceful change is possible, or whether the suffocating status quo will grow more stifling.

There is another way of gauging the April vote: is Chicago yet ready to reject the police state practices of its local government?  Is Chicago ready to reject a mayor who seems content to allow police state behavior to go unexamined and unpunished?  Will Chicago be where a majority of Americans finally confront the nationwide plague of police hate and violence that makes the term “American justice” an oxymoron?

The current mayor since 2011, the arrogant and ineffective Rahm Emanuel, has catered to his rich folks base (with “the actions of a mad king”). And he has treated the majority of Chicagoans with destructive disdain, whether he’s closing their schools, attacking teachers and other public employees, or ignoring police brutality and killing. (As a Congressman in 2002, Emanuel supported the Iraq War right out of the box.) He is endorsed by major Chicago media that laud his “significant accomplishments,” but they can’t seem to name any.  His record is mixed.

Given the preening self-satisfaction of the incumbent pugnacious bully, given the  elitist priorities and anti-populist destructiveness of this Clinton-Obama Democrat, the best result for the national Democratic Party – and for the country – would be the clear rejection of regressive, right wing Democrat Rahm Emanuel for a second term as mayor. Emanuel’s defeat could mean the end of almost 30 years of corporate Democrats (including Richard M. Daley, 1989-2011) running Chicago for the 1% and driving the city into heavy debt that the 99% will be expected to pay.

Chicagestapo story breaks, police lie, everyone else starts stonewalling

Chicago is already paying tens of millions of dollars in restitution to victims of the Chicago Police Department over the past four decades (over $50 million paid in 2014 alone). On election day, February 24, Chicago police state tactics became a clear and present issue in the current election, when the Guardian newspaper published a report about one of the city’s darker open secrets, the Homan Square holding facility that has functioned as a municipal black site for torture and interrogation for years.

In its essence, the story is simple and predictable: the Chicago police have a secure facility where they can take prisoners and hold them more or less indefinitely, keeping no official record of their whereabouts, while treating them with torture techniques made familiar by their application to prisoners at Guantanamo. The Guardian story by Spencer Ackerman, a reliable reporter who used to work for Wired, is based on public records and the personal accounts of both victims and attorneys, none of whom hide behind anonymity. The report provides ample detail that can be independently verified by any responsible public official or investigator or other news organization.

Despite the long Chicago police history of chronic brutality, the department promptly went into denial mode, issuing an unsigned,  so-called “fact sheet” that is free of much relevant fact. Beyond that dishonest document, police officials refused to comment.  Much of the police “defense” turns on the characterization by witnesses (not by Guardian reporters) of “what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site,” which it clearly is, based on current evidence.

Homan Square is a large, well-guarded warehouse secure from scrutiny

Homan Square used to be a Sears, Roebuck warehouse complex built in 1904, on a 40-plus acre site, providing 3.3 million square feet of floor space. In 1978, after Sears moved out, 16 acres of the site became a National Historic Landmark and the rest was re-developed in a variety of ways. In 1999, the police took over part of the Sears complex, one four-story warehouse covering most of a city block. In other words, even this smaller piece of the Sears complex is a big building, as the police acknowledge, without saying just how big the Homan Square Facility is:

It serves a number of functions, some of which are sensitive and some of which are not, however it is not a secret facility. In fact, Homan Square is home to CPD’s Evidence and Recovered Property Section, which is open to the public…. Portions of the facility are sensitive. Homan Square is the base of operations for officers working undercover assignments…. Other sensitive units housed at the facility include the Bureau of Organized Crime (including the narcotics unit), the SWAT Unit, Evidence Technicians, and the CPD ballistics lab…. Homan Square contains several standard interview rooms. Most individuals interviewed at Homan Square are lower-level arrests from the Narcotics unit….

This is an exercise in non-denial denial. The police acknowledge some of what Homan Square contains, but there is no claim that this is all it contains. Most of the facility is “sensitive” and inaccessible to the public. Lawyers and reporters have been barred in recent weeks from entering the grounds. Homan Square also reportedly houses a large number of military vehicles and has plenty of space for a secret section in which to hold and interrogate persons of interest.

The police “fact sheet” claims that there are “always records of anyone who is arrested,” which leaves all the room in the world for the truth of the allegation that people have been held and tortured at Homan Square without ever being arrested (as described by Victoria Suter). Similarly, the assertion that “it is not a secret facility” can be true, since it does not deny that this “sensitive” facility may hide one of more secret sections. Defending themselves against brutality claims, police admit that a prisoner in custody died of a heroin overdose. How does that happen with competent policing?

The second and third pages of the “fact sheet” are even less relevant or persuasive. The second page consists of mostly unattributed opinion from friendly local news media (Tribune, Sun-Times, WBEZ). At least one of the police quotes reinforces the possibility that an actual, unconstitutional detention facility exists: “it’s an exaggeration to call it a ‘black site,’” according to one law professor – only an exaggeration?

It’s so much easier to disappear someone you haven’t arrested

The Guardian report makes consistent allegations supported by testimony that can be independently verified:

  • that police take people into custody without arresting them;
  • that police hold prisoners incommunicado, sometimes for days;
  • that police deny prisoners their right to make a phone call;
  • that police deny prisoners any contact with their lawyers;
  • that police lie to lawyers about the whereabouts of their clients;
  • that police keep prisoners shackled hand and foot.

Additionally, there are allegations of further torture including threats and brutality. Most of this behavior is prohibited by the constitution.

The third page of the police “fact sheet” comprises a detailed outline of Chicago police “arrest and interview procedures.” In other words, it is no answer whatsoever to allegations about the treatment of people who have not been arrested.

Mayor Emanuel, police officials, and others choose not to address the specifics of the Guardian report. They have been hiding behind this “fact sheet” charade of a defense, referring questioners to it as if it actually meant something. The Chicago Sun-Times and MSNBC (perhaps others) ran portions of the police “fact sheet” verbatim,  as if the anonymous police assertions were an independent news story. As the Columbia Journalism Review noted a week after the Homan Square story broke, it “was huge on the internet – but not in Chicago media.”  The Review did not go on to note that the Homan Square story was all but invisible in national mainstream media (Democracy NOW covered the story early and in depth). The Review also made a rookie mistake, attributing the “CIA black site” characterization to reporter Ackerman even though he was careful to attribute it to others.

Police lawlessness in Chicago is an old story – therefore it doesn’t matter?

Remember the Chicago police riot of 1968: it was sanctioned by then Mayor Richard J. Daley who shouted anti-Semitic insults at the Connecticut Senator who spoke out against the violent rampage of city cops against unarmed anti-war protestors. Chicago policing was not good before that, and it hasn’t improved appreciably since. Government in Chicago, as in so many other places, remains tolerant of illegal, racist, brutal, and sometimes lethal police behavior.  That’s why it matters.

Rahm Emanuel has responded to the present “black site” report with denial and silence, mostly silence. Perhaps his only on-the-record comment on the Guardian report is: “That’s not true. We follow all the rules…. Everything’s done by the books.”

It’s not credible that he believes that. Emanuel knows full well that the Chicago police have sheltered its share of serial monsters, and may be sheltering others with its code of silence (that he has affirmed).

Emanuel is still dealing with the case of Chicago police detective Jon Burge who tortured suspects into false confessions for twenty years (1973-1993). Burge was dismissed in 1993. He was never charged criminally. Burge’s settlement with the city protected the mayor at the time from having to testify, perhaps embarrassingly, under oath. That mayor was Richard M. Daley (in office 1989-2011), the son of Richard J. Daley (in office 1955-1976). In 2010, Burge was convicted of perjury in civil suits and sentenced to 4-plus years in prison. He is now a free man, collecting his $3,000-a-month pension, thanks to a decision, apparently barred by statute, by Chicago’s Police Pension Board. Every other taxpayer gets to pay for his crimes through multi-million dollar settlements to his victims ($67 million to 18 victims, and counting) and legal fees. Emanuel has opposed establishing a fund to provide health care and job training to Chicago torture victims.

In 2013, when the city council approved $12.3 million in settlements to two victims, Mayor Emanuel’s comments were cold:

“This is a dark chapter on the history of the city of Chicago…. a stain on the city’s reputation…. I am sorry this happened…. Now let us now all move on.”

Or not, Emanuel is also dealing with the more recent case of Chicago police detective Richard Zuley whose possibly torture-induced convictions are also threatening to come back to haunt the city. Zuley was such a good Chicago torturer (1977-2007), that he went on loan as a Navy reserve lieutenant to Guantanamo where his torture techniques set the bar high for brutality. Zuley, his attorney, and the Chicago police have refused to answer questions from the Guardian.

Police brutality, torture, black sites still not election factor

Emanuel has never shown any inclination to take on the corrupt history of Chicago policing, even as its costs mount for a city in declining financial health. Other public figures, like the media, are also leaving the issue alone. There have been only a few, well-deserved calls for an investigation, especially one by the U.S. Justice Department (which so far has refused any comment).

Even Emanuel’s opponent in the April runoff, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, has only promised public comment. How hard can it be to condemn police torture in Chicago? The charges are many and easy to document and have a long history of turning out to be true. Last November, the United Nations Committee Against Torture issued a report on U.S. compliance with torture law that singled out Chicago police violence against young black and Latino people, as well as “excessive use of force” generally used by Chicago police.

Emanuel was expected to win the mayoral election in the first round, outspending his opponents roughly $15 million to $1.3 million. He also had President Obama’s endorsement. He won 45% of the low-turnout vote, with 55% preferring someone else (voting for three other candidates). Now the runoff is one-on-one and the polls (which overrated Emanuel in the first round) are showing him with a small lead or in a dead heat. He seems aware of his vulnerability, having released an apologetic ad saying he’s sorry he rubs people wrong and should maybe listen more and talk less.

Jesus “Chuy” Garcia is three years older than Emanuel (who is 56) and has a longer political career, all of it Illinois, most of it in Chicago. He is a current member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. He is an established progressive. He was an ally of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington (1983-1987). Garcia’s silence on Chicago police torture is somewhat mystifying, and likely only temporary.

Police: better than mere citizens, above accountability?

In 2012, Mayor Emanuel attempted to expunge a jury verdict that concluded that the Chicago police “code of silence” was a reality. The mayor backed a court motion to vacate the jury verdict and won the support of a woman who had been beaten by a cop, promising to pay her the $850,000 jury award even after the verdict was vacated. Emanuel effectively reached for a code of silence about the “code of silence,” hoping to protect future cops against the consequences of their own brutality. A federal judge rejected the ploy.

The police torture issue is as universal as it is local. The issue cuts deeply. Emanuel is already on the wrong side of it. Even as mild a position as a call for an investigation by the Justice Department would be difficult for traditional Democrats like Emanuel, Obama, Hilary Clinton, and all the rest of the don’t-prosecute-torturers crowd that has become the dominant, anti-democratic wing of the Democratic Party. The defeat of Rahm Emanuel would be at least a momentary check on the smart and soulless drift of the Democratic Party.

Rahm Emanuel is a particularly nasty piece of work as a political being. Why would anyone think it a good idea to be governed by a nasty piece of work? Have American voters learned nothing since 2000, when five nasty pieces of work on the Supreme Court imposed on us a whole nasty piece of work presidency that gave us endless war and debt for which we still pay dearly? Have American voters learned nothing since 2008 when we elected a not-so-nasty piece of work who promptly hired a nasty piece of work as his chief of staff, encouraging the nasty pieces of work in Congress to keep any good from happening – even closing Guantanamo – by any means possible? This collusion of nasty pieces of work prolongs the war crime of Guantanamo, one of America’s nastier pieces of work, preserved in perpetuity as a monument to the depravity of the nasty.

Is that really so hard to say in Chicago, or anywhere the nastiness won’t end if its not confronted?

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. This article was first published in Reader Supported News. Read other articles by William.

Gitmo in Chicago

By Stephen Lendman
March 4, 2015
Global Research, March 3, 2015

 

chicago-black-siteWhat London’s Guardian reported on Tuesday is shocking, disturbing, yet unsurprising given the scourge of neocon fascist governance in America.

Washington’s war on humanity at home and abroad should be a wakeup call for everyone. Wars without end rage against one nation after another.

Independent ones are targeted for regime change. Washington’s goal is total colonization of planet earth, stealing its resources and enslaving its people.

US cities are virtual battlegrounds like never before. America is unsafe to live in.

Washington provides police nationwide with enormous amounts of combat weapons, related equipment and supplies – making them virtual military units.

The line between cop and combat ready soldier is less clear than ever in US history. Militarized police wage war on freedom. It’s a hair’s breadth from disappearing altogether.

When cities become battlegrounds, ordinary people risk being treated like enemies – losing all constitutional protections mattering most.

The alarming state of today’s America should scare everyone. Fundamental rights don’t matter. Anyone can be targeted, arrested and disappeared. Perhaps never heard from again.

This writer’s home city Chicago may be ground zero for some of the most disturbing practices. London’s Guardian broke the story demanding world coverage and outrage.

On February 24, it headlined ”The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden ‘black site.’ ”

It’s an “off-the-books (Homan Square) interrogation compound,” said the Guardian – some miles west from where this writer lives.

A “nondescript warehouse (is) the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.” People are lawlessly arrested, detained, denied access to lawyers up to 24 hours, and tortured during secret interrogations.

Detainees are kept off “official booking databases. Some young as 15 are painfully shackled for long periods, beaten and terrorized.

Homan Square is in Chicago’s west side North Lawndale district. It’s home to the original 1905 Sears, Roebuck and Co. property.

Many of its buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Perhaps Gitmo in America will be included one day. More on the Guardian’s report below.

Chicago police have a longstanding reputation for brutality. They have virtual carte blanche authority to operate with impunity.

They take full advantage. From 1972 – 1991, detective Jon Burge got away with torturing over 200 detainees. Instead of dismissal and prosecution, he was promoted.

Dozens of victims complained. Suits followed. Finally, after 21 abusive years, he was fired.

Community outrage stopped a March 1993 Fraternal Order of Police plan to honor him with a float in Chicago’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.

On October 21, 2008, he was indicted on two counts of obstructing justice and one count of perjury. On June 28, 2010, he was convicted on all counts. He’s the exception proving  the rule.

It took decades for partial justice. Few police are prosecuted –  almost never one of high rank. Burge rose from street cop to detective commander. Over two decades, he got 13 commendations and a Justice Department letter of praise.

His crimes were well-known. A code of silence hid them. He was honored until his luck ran out. He got off mildly.

He received four and half years in prison. His crimes and similar ones committed by other rogue cops should never have been allowed in the first place.

This writer personally knows a Chicago cop torture victim. He committed no crimes. Yet he was lawlessly arrested, detained and brutalized for being Black in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He remains justifiably outraged. Rogue cops weren’t punished. Nor their superiors. During Chicago’s May 2012 NATO summit, Chicago police viciously assaulted peaceful protesters.

Dozens were hurt. Victims had head injuries, broken bones and teeth knocked out. Many required hospitalization.

In Black and Latino communities, police brutality rages. Cracked skulls, arrests and brutality in detention reflect longstanding practice.

Chicago is a mini-police state. Last year, a Chicago organization called We Charge Genocide produced a report charging city police with “systematic horrific & punitive police violence against Black and Brown youths on a daily basis.”

ACLU human rights program director Jamil Dakwar says

“(i)t’s time for systemic policing reforms and effective oversight that make sure law enforcement agencies treat all citizens with equal respect and hold officers accountable when they cross the line.”

Chicago police lie saying

“CPD abides by all laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses, at Homan Square or any other CPD facility.”

“If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them.”

“It also houses CPD’s Evidence Recovered Property Section, where the public is able to claim inventoried property.”

The Guardian report explained systematic abuse of power and denial of fundamental constitutional rights.

“At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square (so-called) ‘interview room’ and later pronounced dead,” it said.

Brian Jacob Church was one of the 2012 NATO Three protesters. He was arrested and held incommunicado at Homan Square for nearly 24 hours before being booked at local police station.

He commented to the Guardian as follows, saying:

“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place. It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East.”

“The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”

“…I wasn’t allowed to make any contact with anybody.”

He was painfully shackled for about 17 hours.

“I had essentially figured, ‘All right, well, they disappeared us and so we’re probably never going to see the light of day again.”

Lawyers seeking access to Homan Square are routinely turned away. According to Chicago attorney Julia Bartmes:

“It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re” at Homan.

Civil rights attorney Flint Taylor accused Chicago police of Fifth and Sixth Amendment violations.

He omitted 8th Amendment prohibitions against “cruel and unusual punishments.”

He said Homan Square reflects

“an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years, of violating a suspect or witness’ rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.”

When a Guardian reporter tried gaining access to Homan, a guard “refused any entrance and would not answer questions,” the paper said.

“This is a secure facility. You’re not even supposed to be standing here,” the guard said.

Detainees taken there “just disappear,” said criminal defense attorney Anthony Hill.

Their whereabouts is unknown “until they show up at a district for charging or are just released back out on the street.”

Chicago police guidelines prohibit Homan Square practices. A “Processing Persons Under Department Control” directive says the following:

“(I)nvestigation or interrogation of an arrestee will not delay the booking process.”

Anyone arrested must be allowed

“a reasonable number of telephone calls (to attorneys straightaway) after their arrival at the first place of custody.”

“Arrestee and In-Custody Communications (must) allow visitation by attorneys.”

According to the Guardian:

“The combination of holding clients for long periods, while concealing their whereabouts and denying access to a lawyer, struck legal experts as a throwback to the worst excesses of Chicago police abuse, with a post-9/11 feel to it.”

Former Chicago public defender/current Valparaiso University Law School dean Andrea Lyon calls Homan Square “analogous to the CIA’s black sites,”

Chicago Justice Project’s Tracy Siska says

“(t)he real danger in allowing practices like Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects.”

“They creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices.”

“That’s how we ended up with a black site in Chicago.”

A follow-up February 26 Guardian report said city police didn’t respond to its questions.

What’s ongoing in Chicago likely happens elsewhere across America. US jails, detention facilities and prisons are notoriously brutal.

An earlier article discussed a 2005 UK Deborah Davis Channel 4 report titled “Torture, Inc., America’s Brutal Prisons.”

It explained prisoners brutally shocked with cattle prods, burned by toxic chemicals, harmed by stun guns, beaten, stripped naked and abused in various other ways.

Sound familiar, it asked? Welcome to Guantanamo in America..

Videos Britain’s Channel 4 aired made disturbing viewing. They show guards yelling and abusing prisoners.

“(O)rdering them to lie on the ground and crawl. (If not) fast enough, a guard kicks (them) or stomps on (their) back.”

One man screamed when a dog bit his lower leg. Another had his ankle broken, couldn’t crawl fast enough, and was painfully taserred on his buttocks.

Hours later, his body still shook uncontrollably. Images revealed reflected Gitmo or Abu Ghraib practices in US prisons.

Horrifying evidence of America’s brutality. Commonplace abroad and at home at the federal, state and local levels.

Chicago is a microcosm of systemic US ruthlessness. Torture without accountability is the clearest example.

Sadism writ large best explains it. Nothing in prospect suggests change.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can b reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.