In an investigation published Tuesday, the Guardian's Spencer Ackerman reports on the existence of a warehouse in Chicago called Homan Square, where police take suspects to keep them out of official databases, deny them legal counsel, and beat them.
Nobody taken to Homan Square is booked, Ackerman reports. "It's sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place—if you can't find a client in the system, odds are they're there," said Julia Bartmes, a Chicago laywer. Reportedly, lawyers who come to Homan Square looking for their clients are often turned away.
"They just disappear," criminal defense attorney Anthony Hill said, "until they show up at a district for charging or are just released back out on the street." Homan Square is "a place of interrogation off the books," Hill said.
When societies allow places like Guantánamo Bay or Abu Ghraib to exist, the practices that flourish there end up being reproduced elsewhere, theorizes criminologist Tracy Siska, executive director of the Chicago Justice Project, told Ackerman: "They creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices. That's how we ended up with a black site in Chicago."
Siska put what Ackerman found in further context in a Q&A with the Atlantic. "99 percent of the people from this site are involved in some form of street crime: gang activities, drugs—urban violent crime," he said. "That's what makes the site even worse. It takes Guantanamo-style tactics on urban street criminals and shreds the Bill of Rights."
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