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John Conroy

Wrongful Convictions Speaker Series kicks off Wednesday with lecture on Chicago police torture case

Posted: 09/14/2012
John Conroy, a reporter and writer who exposed the Chicago police torture scandal involving former Commander Jon Burge will speak about the case and its aftermath at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19 at Roosevelt University’s Gage Gallery, 18 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.

Conroy, a senior lecturer and director of investigations at DePaul University’s College of Law legal clinic, is the author of two books, Belfast Diary: War as a Way of Life and Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics of Torture and is playwright of My Kind of Town.  Set against the backdrop of the Chicago police torture scandal, the play premiered this year at Chicago’s TimeLine Theatre.
A writer for the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Boston Globe, Mother Jones, Granta, Village Voice and The Nation, Conroy is best known for his work at the Chicago Reader where he exposed a pattern of torture by Chicago police to gain confessions from more than 100 people, most of whom are African-American men.

Today, Burge is serving a 4.5 year sentence in a federal prison for perjury and the FBI is continuing to investigate how other Chicago police officers have obtained confessions. Touching on the case’s history, when Chicago officials first became aware of torture allegations and the cost to society of putting the wrong people in prison for crimes they did not commit, Conroy’s lecture is entitled “My Kind of Town: Torture, Wrongful Conviction and Public Indifference.”
Sponsored by the Joseph Loundy Human Rights Project and Roosevelt University’s Department of Psychology, this first Wrongful Convictions Distinguished Speaker Series event of Roosevelt University’s fall semester is being held at a time when the National Registry of Exonerations is reporting that more than 2,000 people in the United States have been exonerated between 1989 and the present for wrongful convictions of crimes they did not commit.
“The work that John (Conroy) did in exposing this case and bringing it to the forefront is critical, particularly since many of those whom were tortured still have not received justice or even an adequate explanation or apology,” said Bethany Barratt, director of the Joseph Loundy Human Rights Project. “There still exists today a code of silence regarding Chicago police and how they obtain confessions, which is something we will delve into during the event and our discussion,” she said.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For information, contact Barratt at or Shari Berkowitz at