"[Burge] put some handcuffs on my ankles, then he took one wire and put it on my ankles, he took the other wire and put it behind my back, on the handcuffs behind my back. Then after that, when he—then he went and got a plastic bag, put it over my head ... so I bit through it. So he went and got another bag and put it on my head and he twisted it. When he twisted it, it cut my air off and I started shaking. ... So then he hit me with the voltage. When he hit me with the voltage, that's when I started gritting, crying, hollering … It feel [sic] like a thousand needles going through my body. And then after that, it just feel [sic] like, you know—it feel [sic] like something just burning me from the inside, and, um, I shook, I gritted, I hollered, then I passed out."
As with the CIA case, torture involved not only those who administered electric shocks and beatings, but those in power who directly or indirectly benefited from it. Despite widespread accusations of torture, Richard M. Daley, then the Cook County State's Attorney and later Mayor of Chicago, did not investigate Burge and continued to use confessions elicited by torture to make convictions.
Given Daley's power and a justice system where the testimony of arrested black men is rarely given the same weight as that of white police officers, it seemed impossible that justice would ever be done—as it seems impossible that justice will ever be done in the CIA torture case. But activists and torture survivors themselves continued to push the issue in the media, in the courts, and in the international community, winning one slow, improbable victory after another. In 2001, campaigners managed to convince then-Governor of Illinois George Ryan to pardon four men tortured by Burge, and commute all death sentences in the state because of concerns about the fairness of the state's justice system.
The statute of limitations for most of Burge’s alleged criminal acts ran out long ago, but prosecutors were still able to charge him with perjury because he had lied under oath about his acts of torture during a civil case. Though Burge was convicted in 2006, he was released in October after serving less than four years in prison, and a police board determined that he could retain his pension. Meanwhile, most of those Burge tortured have received no compensation. At least nineteen people who were convicted on the basis of confessions elicited with torture remain in prison.
In October 2013, Aldermen Proco Joe Moreno and Howard Brookins filed an ordinance in Chicago's City Council titled "Reparations for the Chicago Police Torture Victims." If passed, the ordinance would officially acknowledge and apologize for the torture committed, provide at least $20 million in reparations to the victims, provide resources for the legal defense of those victims still incarcerated, fund a memorial, and mandate a school curriculum focused on teaching about Burge's abuses. According to Moreno, who has been working on the issue of police torture since before he became alderman in 2010, the ordinance is necessary because "we're trying to wipe this scar off of Chicago."