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Fifteen incarcerated men who claim they were sent to prison by confessions that were beaten, burned and tortured out of them by convicted Chicago police Lt. Jon Burge and his officers are getting some high-profile help — including from a former Illinois governor.

In a friend-of-the-court brief to be filed Wednesday with the Illinois Supreme Court, ex-Gov. Jim Thompson and more than 60 current and former prosecutors, judges and lawmakers are asking for new evidentiary hearings for inmates who say their convictions were based on coerced confessions.

The brief marks the first effort on behalf of alleged Burge victims as a group and not separate individual cases, attorneys said.

Burge's name has become synonymous with police abuse in the nation's third-largest city, and more than 100 men — most of them African-American and Latino— have alleged Burge and his men tortured them from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Burge was convicted last year of lying about whether he ever witnessed or participated in the torture of suspects. He's serving a 4 1/2-year sentence at Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina.

Burge never has faced criminal charges for abuse. He was fired from the police department in 1993 over the 1982 beating and burning of Andrew Wilson, a suspect later convicted of killing two police officers.


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