Keeping It Real

Explaining the settlements

By: pardoned Illinois death row prisoner Stanley Howard

After a yearlong fight to get the City of Chicago to honor its November 2006 settlement, when the city was set to approve the $19.8 million bill, I realized they were being unfair to me. And because of your many questions and letters, it’s only fitting for me to explain to everyone who fought so hard for the settlement why I decided at the last minute to reject the deal. It was reported that the city was finally settling the lawsuits filed by four Death Row Ten members--who were tortured by fired police Commander Jon Burge and pardoned from Death Row in 2003. 

Madison Hobley, Leroy Orange, Aaron Patterson and I were to receive $7.5 million, $5.5 million, $5 million and $1.8 million, respectively. But I became infuriated when I heard they were holding $6.5 million from Hobley until the feds finished investigating his case, or until the year 2009. He would not receive the $6.5 million if indicted or convicted again. In the beginning of the negotiations, the City and Judge gave my lawsuit a lesser value than the other three. Even though I was tortured, wrongfully convicted and spent 16 years on death row, they claimed it was valued less because I’m still and would have been incarcerated if I hadn’t been sent to death row on an unrelated conviction. I never agreed with that assessment because I’m still fighting this conviction, and I’m confident my innocence will be proven. And I argued that I should be properly compensated now, because if we had a trial, I would not be able to reassemble a jury whenever this conviction is overturned. 

I felt insulted by the City’s actions. They wanted to settle my case at such a low value--regardless of the future outcome of my conviction. Then, on the other hand, they were holding $6.5 million from Hobley based on the future outcome of his federal investigation. I decided to fight against this injustice by refusing to release the city from future liability. And I expressed this on the signed, written agreement--the move that derailed a final vote on the settlement by the city council. Instead of leaving the door open for me to be properly compensated when this conviction is overturned, the city appealed, and the judge forced me to stay with my original deal while allowing the city to change the nature of their deal with Hobley. 

Keepin’ it real: no amount of money can compensate for what I went and am going through, and even though the deal was eventually approved, I’m still unhappy with the amount and how I’m being treated. Maybe things will go better with my suit against the county and prosecutor’s office. I thank you all for standing with us throughout this whole ordeal. 

Stanley Howard #71620
RR 4 Box 196
Mt. Sterling, IL 62353