Reflections on Lisa Madigan’s Speech

Unfortunately missing the protests, I somehow managed to get to Lisa Madigan’s speech. And not just to the video room, but “the real one.” (I’m mentioning this, because security was super tight, it almost felt like I’m going to hear the President of the United States speak)

Either way, the room was filled with reporters and seemingly important people. After a brief introduction by another Loyola Law School alumna, Lisa Madigan began her speech, which overall was very well put together (The woman definitely has character and charisma).

A friend of mine that was accompanying me noted that the speech was rather autobiographic, as she spoke about her undergrad studies in Georgetown and adventures in Africa, where she taught a robust group of “hungry for knowledge” students.

Also, she devoted a large portion of her speech to praising “U.S. Senator Paul Simon, an Illinois Democrat who influenced her to reconsider what she wanted to do with her life”

The interesting part came, after a brave protestor who somehow have managed to sneak in, lifted protest papers up in the air. Of course, Lisa Madigan completely disregarded him, while the poor security was struggling to find ingenious ways to get him out of the room. Unsuccessfully.

After the speech, I was intrigued to find out more about Lisa Madigan’s policies, but came accross some controversial information.

On one hand, there was her side, stating that she and her office are “still looking at witness testimony and going back and looking at cases. We are working on a case-by-case basis.” “But the vast majority of the cases are over 20 years old.” So, is the age of the cases the defining factor why they should be ignored? The contrary seems more logical- the very fact that they are over 20 years old, they have not been reviewed properly and no one has been punished for the alleged torture incidents, grants them priority. They are not “just cases,” there are people who might be innocent and wasting away in prison.

I’m not a judge and don’t know all the specifities of all the Burge torture cases, so it would be extremely bias of me to just say “they are all innocent, let them go” and side with some of the protesters. But the point here is not about innocence, it is about the methods confessions were obtained and the right of those inmates to have a “fair and just” trial.

Thus, I think that while Lisa Madigan, might be a great woman who has achieved a lot in  her career, I do believe that as of now she has failed to address the Burge Torture Cases approprietly. Hopefully, a new swiftness to the process would be innitiated soon, in order to prevent the unthinkable – innocent lives being wasted in prison.


2 Responses

  1. Unfortunately, I missed out on her speech, but I am very intrigued that she came to Loyola and that a protest followed. One of the main points that I completely agree with is that 20-year-old cases should be given priority. If Madigan is using that as a reason for dismissing the cases (or at least putting off investigations), than that is completely ridiculous. They should have been reviewed properly in the first place, but the time lapse serves no justice as the victims await the outcome in jail. She may be a busy person and put this issue low on the list, but in the mean time there is chance that innocent people are in jail for this duration. And yes, maybe there are not innocent. But the point is there is chance that they are and they deserve a trial and investigation.

  2. Thanks, everyone, for your thoughtful comments. I work with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP) and was one of the organizers of the protest. I just wanted to write a few words about the torture cases. In some of them, the only evidence was the confession that was electro-shocked, suffocated and beaten out of them. I have no doubt that some of the men in prison are innocent. However, that’s not the main issue for me.

    One of the posts here hit the main issue on the head: “the point here is not about innocence, it is about the methods confessions were obtained and the right of those inmates to have a ‘fair and just’ trial.”

    Our main point is that nobody should be tried, convicted, and sent to prison for years based on a confession that was tortured out of them. That’s why our main demand has been not that all of the victims go free, but that all of them receive new trials. Lisa Madigan has the power as the top prosecutor in the state and the special prosecutor in these cases to go to a judge and ask for evidentiary hearings so all of these men have their day in court.

    Lisa Madigan says she is reviewing these cases on a case-by-case basis and that all of these cases are different. But that’s precisely where she’s wrong. All of these cases involve confessions secured through credible allegations of torture. All of the victims deserve their day in court. She should publicly call for evidentiary hearings for all of them.

    In fact, Lisa Madigan has done the opposite. In more than five years on the job, she has failed to initiate an evidentiary hearing for any torture victim. It’s time for her to do the right thing.

    If anyone has any questions about our work, or how to get involved, feel free to get in touch at or visit our website at

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