Sentenced to Death Due to Police Torture

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On July 7, Ronald Kitchen became a free man.  Convicted of the murder of five people in 1988, he spent over a dozen years on Illinois’ death row facing execution, until former Governor George Ryan commuted his sentence, along with all other Illinois death sentences, to life without parole in 2003.  But his conviction was based on a confession he gave to Chicago police after they tortured him.  According to Kitchen, he was “hit in the head with a telephone, punched in the face, struck in the groin and kicked.”  Tuesday, all charges against him were dropped, and he was released.

“If you’re getting whooped for over 39 hours and you’re constantly saying that you didn’t do it and they’re constantly doing what they’re doing, somewhere along the line you’re going to realize they’re not going to stop unless somebody gives in,” Kitchen said in a Chicago Sun Times article.  

Kitchen’s wrongful conviction was one of many obtained by officers serving under Police Commander Jon Burge.  During the 1970s and 1980s in Chicago, prisoners, mostly African American, were routinely tortured and abused into giving false confessions.  Amnesty International reported on these and other abuses ten years ago.  Because the arc of the universe bends towards justice, Burge now faces his own day in court, though for perjury and obstruction of justice charges, not torture.

Kitchen’s exoneration came in part thanks to the efforts of the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University; but, despite the clear evidence of torture, it still took dozens of people years of work to win his freedom.  As the video above makes clear, many others who may be equally innocent aren’t lucky enough to get that kind of support.

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8 thoughts on “Sentenced to Death Due to Police Torture

  1. Great job! And Herman Lindsey is next on the growing list of exonerated death row inmates. That is great news indeed! Next to be exonerated may ne Robert Springsteen and Kevin Keith! So far we are fighting in the battle for justice in exonerating the innocent from death row and preventing wrongful executions from occurring. My prayer goes out to the families of death row inmates and those wrongfully condemned, along with the families of murder victims.

  2. Great job! And Herman Lindsey is next on the growing list of exonerated death row inmates. That is great news indeed! Next to be exonerated may ne Robert Springsteen and Kevin Keith! So far we are fighting in the battle for justice in exonerating the innocent from death row and preventing wrongful executions from occurring. My prayer goes out to the families of death row inmates and those wrongfully condemned, along with the families of murder victims.

  3. This is why I've never supported first offense death sentences. To much opportunity for innocence.

    The police officers involved in such wrong doing deserve to be punished severely. They have accomplished nothing but unermining everything they think they stand for.

  4. This is why I’ve never supported first offense death sentences. To much opportunity for innocence.

    The police officers involved in such wrong doing deserve to be punished severely. They have accomplished nothing but unermining everything they think they stand for.

  5. To be convicted of a wrong doing that he quite obviously was tortured into confessing, just goes to prove the extend of how damaged the judicial system is. To pin such a crime and to stamp a death sentence without clear proof tells us that we need to look at the bigger picture here and stand for what clearly is our rights.

  6. To be convicted of a wrong doing that he quite obviously was tortured into confessing, just goes to prove the extend of how damaged the judicial system is. To pin such a crime and to stamp a death sentence without clear proof tells us that we need to look at the bigger picture here and stand for what clearly is our rights.

  7. This is good news. However, this is happening TOO MUCH. Torture should become a MAJOR offense as a way to get people to confess to something they did not do? Is there a "watchdog group" on this particular issue. If so, I would like to know how to contact and help

  8. This is good news. However, this is happening TOO MUCH. Torture should become a MAJOR offense as a way to get people to confess to something they did not do? Is there a “watchdog group” on this particular issue. If so, I would like to know how to contact and help