By 1993, the world at large knew Jon Burge and his officers had been torturing confessions out of hundreds of people. Darrell Cannon's conviction was overturned in 2001, but he wasn't released until 2004. "For my previous case, I was out on parole. So once this case was dismissed, I now revert back to my old case, and a parole board would have to give me my freedom, and the parole board refused to do so. The parole board ... felt I had something to do with this case ... and therefore refused to grant me my parole. And it took three years of me fighting this parole board before a judge stood up to this parole board and said, 'Either release Darrell Cannon, or I will.'"
There was obviously a gigantic payout to the victims: $19.8 million. But that wasn't offered to Darrell. Remember how he'd taken that $3,000 out-of-court settlement waaaay back in the '80s? That meant he wasn't entitled to any of the new money. The government instead spent well over a million dollars continuing to fight his case. It didn't work out, but we're sure all that money did more for Chicago than, we don't know, schools or whatever.
Darrell claims he was eventually made an offer: He'd receive over $2 million in compensation, but he'd have to agree to shut up about the torture program, and not embark on advocacy work on behalf of other torture victims in the city's prisons. "I can't go into all of that, because of the fact that it was did under the table, where they was saying, 'Well, if this is disclosed, we will disavow knowledge of every having this conversation.' So there is no way I can concretely prove it, because we did not tape the conversation that we had ..."
As you've probably inferred, once he was out of prison, Darrell got down to advocatin'. "I had a job to do. And my job was: There was men in prison depending on me to keep their cases alive by keeping the John Burge case in the media. And you know, 13 pieces of silver ... I felt like this was the same scenario. My integrity cannot be bought. I have integrity, and my integrity is that I'm going to continue to speak as long as God allows me to wake up ..."
There are currently up to 30 men still serving time for cases connected to the Chicago torture ring. Burge was fired in 1993, when news of the program broke. But he couldn't be charged with "torturing hundreds of people," because it turns out there's a statute of limitation on that.
Huh. Operating a secret torture ring for decades seems like the kind of thing that shouldn't just expire. But hey, what do we know? We're just a website that writes way too many words about Space Jam. Meanwhile, Chicago police have never really stopped abducting and torturing people.
For more from Robert Evans, get his book A Brief History of Vice: How Bad Behavior Built Civilization. For more on the Blackstone Rangers, check out reporter Richard T. Sale's book about his time spent with them on the streets of Chicago.
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