Speak Out: Join the Campaign to End Forced Confessions

By Melanie Wilmoth

Take a moment to check out the campaign to end forced confessions and wrongful convictions launched by our friends at ColorOfChange.org.

Their campaign centers on the cases of ten Black men (known as the Dixmoor Five and the Englewood Five) in Cook County, Illinois who were convicted of murder in the 1990s based solely on forced confessions. Some of the men, who were merely teenagers at the time of conviction, have been behind bars for almost 20 years.

Despite recent DNA evidence that proves the men were wrongfully convicted, six of the ten men remain in prison and the Cook County State’s Attorney refuses to overturn their convictions.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new for Illinois. The state is plagued with a history of police coercion and forced confessions. From 1972 to 1991, Chicago Police Department Lieutenant Jon Burge and officers under his supervision used torture tactics such as beating, suffocation, and electric shock to force hundreds of suspects to confess to crimes.

Although Burge was fired in 1993 and is currently serving a 4.5-year sentence for lying about witnessing and participating in the torture of suspects, he has never been charged with abuse.

As history tells us, it is all too common for cases involving coercion and forced confessions to go unquestioned. Please consider speaking out about the wrongful convictions of the Dixmoor and Englewood Five by signing ColorOfChange.org’s petition.

To learn more about these cases, click here.

One thought on “Speak Out: Join the Campaign to End Forced Confessions

  1. I don’t think juries understand that confessions or eyewitness testimony aren’t iron-clad proof that someone is 100% guilty as charged, do they? These questions of coerced confessions of juveniles, even the tactics of interrogations, like lying to defendants, or sleep deprivation, don’t come up in Law and Order or CSI, where most juries get educated. The reliability of eyewitness testimony came up on “Dr. Phil” when a rape victim was still convinced she was confronting her rapist on TV when the DNA 15 years later exonerated him. I think, looking at the comments on the show, it may have made an impression more as a personal story of “her mistake” and “his forgiveness” as a black man (as his very peaceful character does make an impression), than the point of the fallibility of eyewitness testimony does, although I remember psychological stuff about that being in the show. Maybe that is my fallible memory.

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