A Chicago man is pursuing a civil claim for damages against a suburban police department for an ordeal he underwent in 1996 after he was arrested for two unrelated homicides. There was no evidence linking him to the crimes but in an apparent effort to close two unsolved cases police interrogated him for hours and even threatened to kill him in order to obtain a confession.
The man says that after 26 hours of torture and constant interrogation he finally signed a false confession to the two homicides, leading to his convcition and eventual imprisonment for the crimes that were later determined to have been committed by someone else.
False confessions are more of an issue in the Illinois criminal justice system than many people realize. Most readers cannot imagine a situation that would cause them to confess to murders that they did not committ, but the truth is that hours of tough interrogation and a fear for one's own life can produce surprising results.
It is also hard to imagine in that moment that signing a false confession will actually lead to a conviction, since many people think that once they are out of police custody and able to contact and attorney the whole situation will be fixed. This may be possible with the help of an experienced attorney but it can be an uphill battle.
The man in this case fought the wrongful accusations for many years before he was able to get his conviction vacated in 2012.
Source: Courthouse News Service, "Man Claims Cops Tortured Confession Out," Jack Bouboushian, May 28, 2013.