Judge Finalizes Consent Decree to Improve CPD Detainees’ Legal Access After Civil Rights and Police Accountability Clinic Lawsuit is Settled

Lawsuit forces Chicago Police Department to improve inmates’ access to lawyers

Getting your phone call while in the custody of Chicago police should get easier after city officials on Wednesday settled a lawsuit with activist and legal aid groups alleging CPD routinely denied arrestees access to lawyers.

Standing in “Freedom Square”— a vacant lot across the street from CPD’s Homan Square facility notorious as an interrogation site — activists touted a consent decree finalized by Judge Neil Cohen as the end of a decades-long struggle to end the department’s practice of isolating detainees from lawyers and family in violation of state and federal law that has been on the books since the 1950s and ‘60s.


The settlement agreement, which takes effect in February, essentially spells out steps CPD will take to comply with existing law — including the 5th and 6th Amendments — as explained in the familiar refrain of “Miranda rights” that are a staple of detective TV shows, said Craig Futterman of University of Chicago Law School.

Attorneys long have complained that their clients “disappear” after being taken into police custody, their location unknown and unreachable by lawyers and loved ones, allowing police to conduct marathon interrogations that have led to wrongful convictions, Futterman said.

“Finally, we are delivering on the promise of ‘Miranda,’” Futterman said.

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