Cortez Brown should be free

December 10, 2008

JON BURGE, the notorious police torturer, is finally being prosecuted for his crimes. But his victims remain in jail.

Cortez Brown is a member of the Death Row 10--actually 13 men who ended up on death row after being beaten and electrocuted by Burge and his crew. Despite having his death sentence overturned by former Gov. George Ryan, Brown remains in jail. He is currently petitioning to overturn his murder conviction.

Cortez Brown (whose given name is Victor Safforld) was 19 in 1980 when he was picked up for a traffic violation. After being taken to Area 1 Police Department for questioning in two murder cases, Cortez immediately told them he wanted to make a phone call and wanted a lawyer present during questioning.

He phoned his mother and told her he was at Area 1, and she arranged for a lawyer to go to Area 1. Before his mother or lawyer could make it to Area 1, Cortez was taken to Area 3 police department. At Area 3, he was beaten by detectives John Palladino, Anthony Maslanka and John O'Brien--who all worked with the notorious Jon Burge. To make the beatings stop, Cortez signed a false statement with a false name, Cortez Brown.

Cortez was eventually convicted of two felony murders and sentenced to death. There are many problems with his case. There was no physical evidence in either case. Cortez was beaten into making a false confession, which was used to convict him, even though it did not include a confession to murder.

Witness who claimed to see Cortez near the scene contradicted one other. And the sentence was arbitrary: If the two cases had been tried in reverse order, Cortez would have never been eligible for the death penalty!

Cortez Brown should never have been in jail for this crime. He was convicted by a corrupt justice system and corrupt, racist cops. All Burge's victims were Black or Latino, and all the officers were white. Although Burge was fired in 1994, the other officers were left on the Chicago police force. Burge retired to Florida.

Prosecutors have dragged their feet for so long that the statue of limitations on this crimes has expired. Burge was never charged with a crime until late last year when he was charged with perjury--for claiming under oath in a civil lawsuit that he had not tortured Madison Hobley, another member of the Death Row 10! Burge is currently free on bond while Cortez Brown is fighting for his freedom.
Glenn Allen, Chicago

Please send letters of support to: Cortez Brown B36310, Route 53, P.O. Box 112, Joliet, IL 60434.

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