Chicago cops have been involved in too many investigations that led to false charges against innocent suspects: James Newsome, falsely convicted of murder; Leroy Orange, Aaron Patterson, Madison Hobley and Stanley Howard, all tortured by Jon Burge’s detectives into confessing to crimes they didn’t commit; John Willis, imprisoned for nearly a decade on false rape charges; Corethian Bell, bullied and beaten into falsely confessing to the murder of his own mother; Ronald Jones, sent to death row for a murder he didn’t commit; Jerry Miller, whose false imprisonment lasted two and a half decades; the two young boys who were falsely accused of raping and killing Ryan Harris. And that’s only a small sampling of the Chicago miscarriages of justice that have come to light in recent years.
Many of these cases have led to lawsuits in which police officers were accused of trampling on the constitution and railroading the innocent into false charges, convictions or long prison sentences. These suits haven’t been cheap for the city. The total of the verdicts or settlements just in the cases listed above is over $45 million. The total cost to the city from Chicago Police civil rights violations that caused wrongful convictions — including the city’s payments to expensive outside lawyers to defend some of these suits — is approximately a staggering $125 million.
That’s not a trivial sum of money. It’s enough to equip and train a lot of additional police officers, to facilitate community policing efforts focused on neighborhoods where improved relationships with the police are desperately needed, and to leave money to spare for education and job training for young people from those same neighborhoods. Or, the city could skip the good works and trim 10% off the City’s $1 billion budget deficit.