In February, the Guardian published a deep investigation into Homan Square, a shadowy facility where the Chicago Police Department takes suspects without booking them, entering them into any official database, or giving them access to a telephone or their lawyer. A new Guardian report claims that more than twice as many people have been “disappeared” into Homan as officials initially disclosed.
The paper obtained documents showing that more than 7,000 people were detained at Homan between 2004 and 2015—about 6,000 of whom were black. Less than one percent of those detainees were allowed to see their lawyers during interrogations. Attorneys described a system that seems deliberately engineered to make it difficult to find their clients; others said that they were turned around at the door. “Try finding a phone number for Homan to see if anyone’s there. You can’t, ever,” an attorney named David Gaeger told the Guardian. “If you’re laboring under the assumption that your client’s at Homan, there really isn’t much you can do as a lawyer. You’re shut out. It’s guarded like a military installation.”
Spencer Ackerman of the Guardian’s earlier reporting on Homan detailed allegations of beatings and long, unexplained detainments with no access to counsel. One attorney described a client whose name was changed on his records before a transfer to Homan. He emerged from the facility with a head wound:
“He said that the officers caused his head injuries in an interrogation room at Homan Square. I had been looking for him for six to eight hours, and every department member I talked to said they had never heard of him,” Solowiej said. “He sent me a phone pic of his head injuries because I had seen him in a police station right before he was transferred to Homan Square without any.”
And as unsettling as it is to think that 7,000 people were subjected to such treatment without even being formally booked, that number is almost certainly low: those who were taken to Homan but not ultimately charged with crimes do not figure into the records the Chicago PD has disclosed thus far, meaning that many more detainees may be missing for the record.