Jon Burge, the former Chicago cop convicted of lying about his role in overseeing a ring of cops that tortured 100 black men, was sentenced to four and a half years in federal prison.
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It is a woefully low sentence for a man who was involved in heinous acts, such as shocking men's testicles to coerce murder convictions, and indicative of the fact that the statute of limitations on torture should be lifted.
Burge was convicted of lying about his role in a long-running torture ring that saw black men taken to secret locations, where guns were placed in their mouths and their testicles electrocuted with a cattle prod to coerce confessions.
While men who confessed to crimes under extreme duress without receiving their right to a trial were sent to prison for long stretches, the real murderers could have been left on the street to commit other crimes.
Burge, who is now old and sick, will finally have to pay some sort of retribution for his crimes, but it is not nearly enough time given the scope and magnitude of the criminal enterprise he was involved in.
"It's outrageous," Mark Clements, who says Burge's officers tortured him in to giving a false confession in 1981 when he was 16, told the AP. "It's not justice."
"People in our community get more time than this for fistfights," said Fred Hampton Jr., son of the late Black Panther of the same name.
The problem is that the statute of limitations on the crimes Burge was accused of has expired and perjury was the only crime prosecutors could charge him with. U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis of Illinois has proposed removing the statute of limitations for torture.
The city of Chicago should also be ashamed of itself for not investigating the persistent allegations over the many years by black men who said they were tortured. This is how Burge and his band of officers escaped justice.
This case should be used as the perfect example of why the change in the law needs to be made immediately.
Just think of how many lives Burge and his band of rogue officers destroyed. Burge decided that he was above the law, that black men did not have the same basic rights as every American and that he would serve as both judge and jury.
Burge asked for a lenient sentence because of his military service and because he has prostrate cancer and other ailments.
"I'm 63 years old, and while I try to keep a proud face, in reality, I am a broken man," Burge said in court.
The real question is how many black men did Burge break? How many families did he destroy? How many children grew up without fathers?
Unfortunately, we will never know.
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