How Chicago Police Torture Case Helped Free Prisoner


The Chicago Reader tells the story of Mark Clements, 46, who at age 16 was snatched off the streets and beaten by a detective into a false confession to setting an apartment fire that killed four people with other detectives and an assistant state’s attorney looking the other way. He now makes his living through speaking fees and part-time work for the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.

Northwestern University law Prof. Bernardine Dohrn interviewed Clements in prison and persuaded Skadden, a large corporate firm, o take his case. Four Skadden lawyers crafted a petition that leaned heavily on revelations in the decades since Clements was convicted about the torture cases associated with former Chicago police officer Jon Burge. “Until recently, courts and juries were unaware of what was happening with all-too-much regularity during the 1980s in certain Chicago Police Department interrogation rooms,” the petition said. Clements eventually agreed to a plea deal after serving 28 years in prison.

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