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Trial Begins for Ex-Chicago Police Lt. Accused of Torturing More than 100 Black Men

Jon Burge oversaw a brutal interrogation program that sent countless innocent men to prison after they were tortured into confessing to crimes they didn't commit.

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AMY GOODMAN: Now, did you tell your attorney what had happened then?

DARRELL CANNON: I agreed to everything they said. You know, in fact, they had already told me that they didn't deem me as a perpetrator, but they felt that I knew who the perpetrator was. And I kept telling them I didn't. As a result from having been tortured in the manner in which I was and them feeding me various information, it got to the point where I started speaking back to them what they had already spoke to me. And as a result of that, that evening, a state's attorney came in, along with the detectives that was involved in my torture, and spoke to me about the alleged crime. And afterwards, I repeated to that particular state’s attorney everything that the detectives had been told and everything that I had repeated back to the detectives.

AMY GOODMAN: But did you tell your --

DARRELL CANNON: As a result from that, I was charged with murder.

AMY GOODMAN: And did you tell your lawyer what the police, what the detectives, what Burge had done to you? Had you told your lawyer about the torture?

DARRELL CANNON: Yes, ma'am. I wasn't allowed to see my lawyer until the following day, on November 3rd. I went to court, and before I came out before the judge, my attorney came back to the bullpen. And at that time, I told him what had happened to me the day before. He instructed me not to talk about it or say anything else, that he would deal with it in court at a later date. Then he went on to tell me that the hearing that we was getting ready to go before the judge was just a preliminary hearing to read off the charges and to ask me how I pled. And I pled not guilty.

AMY GOODMAN: You were convicted, though, of murder?


AMY GOODMAN: And how long did you serve in prison?

DARRELL CANNON: I ended up doing twenty-three-and-a-half years in prison, with the last nine of those twenty-three-and-a-half years did in solitary confinement in an institution called Tamms Supermax.

AMY GOODMAN: How did you end up there?

DARRELL CANNON: The system felt like it was better to put me in a place to keep me quiet, because throughout the last twenty-some years, I've continuously raised the issue about having been tortured. I was having hearings. So Tamms was designed for, quote, "the worst of the worst" in the Illinois prison system, even though my record does not indicate that I am the worst of the worst. I’ve never harmed the staff or inmates, anything else. But that was the justification for putting me in Tamms. And in Tamms, reporters are not allowed to come and visit you. You weren’t allowed to have phone calls. So that was a way of probably trying to hush me up.

AMY GOODMAN: You got out in 2004, because prosecutors --

DARRELL CANNON: No, ma'am. No, ma'am. 2007.

AMY GOODMAN: But in 2004, the prosecutors dismissed the case based on these allegations of torture?

DARRELL CANNON: Yes, ma'am. But the parole board refused to release me. The parole board took the banner up and decided that I must have been complicity in some type of way in the alleged crime, so they considered me to be a parole violation, even though there was no evidence of such. So it took me additional few years fighting the parole board in federal court before I finally won. And that's how I got out in 2007.