[JURIST] The City of Chicago [official website] is willing to pay $20 million to settle lawsuits filed by four former death row inmates who claim to have been tortured by Chicago Police [official website] officers during interrogations before being wrongly convicted, local media reported Saturday. The settlement is contingent upon approval by the city's aldermen next week. The four men were among many who reported being brutally tortured by Chicago police during police interrogations in the 1970's and 80's. The settlement announced by the city's Law Department [official website] comes as Chicago attempts to ease tensions between the Chicago Police Department and residents. Last week, Mayor Richard Daley announced a new police chief [press release] for the force, the former head of the FBI's Philadelphia office. Chicago lawmakers hope the settlement and police reorganization will help improve racial relations in the city.
The four men were pardoned in 2003 by then-Illinois governor George Ryan [JURIST news archive]. An investigation into Chicago police torture began in 2002, when the Chief Criminal Judge of Cook County appointed the two special prosecutors to investigate 64 reports of torture and cover-ups. In May 2006, the same judge ordered the public release of the report [AP report], holding that the privacy rights of the accused officers are outweighed by the public's need to know. In 2005, several human rights groups, including the MacArthur Center, asked [JURIST report] the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights [official website] to investigate the allegations. The New York Times has more. The Chicago Sun Times has local coverage.