Investigation Reveals ‘Black Site’ in Chicago Jail System

February 24, 2015 Updated: February 24, 2015

An exclusive media investigation has uncovered the longtime existence of a semi-secret interrogation compound used by the Chicago Police Department. In an exclusive report published on Feb. 24, the Guardian described some of the more disturbing aspects of a place known as Homan Square, located on Chicago’s West Side.

The information was obtained through interviews with local attorneys and an area resident held there for a day and others familiar with the facility.

Alleged abuses include keeping the names of people arrested out of official booking databases, at least one police beating, shackling for a prolonged period of time, denying access to attorneys and phone calls, holding people without legal counsel for as long as 24 hours, and interrogations without first reading Miranda rights.

Brian Jacob Church, the lone former detainee held in Homan Square who agreed to be interviewed by the Guardian, said that he was held and questioned there in 2012 after a police raid. According to Church, he was held there for most of a day without access to an attorney in violation of Chicago’s own laws pertaining to detainee rights. He was eventually sent to a nearby police station where he was booked and charged.

“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian for its story. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”

The investigation into Homan Square follows another recent report by the Guardian about a retired Chicago police detective, Richard Zuley.

Zuley, who worked as a detective on Chicago’s north side for 30 years from 1977 to 2007, is known for his harsh interrogation methods that led to at least one wrongful conviction.

Zuley would later go on to work in Guantánamo as a U.S. Navy Reserve lieutenant where he became responsible for the interrogation of a prisoner at Guantánamo by the name of Mohamedou Ould Slahi. Slahi, who has been ordered released because no evidence against him was found, is the author of an internationally acclaimed memoir of his years at Guantánamo Bay.

Slahi’s book, “Guantánamo Diary,” details his abuse, torture, and mistreatment at the prison. The memoir was serialized by the Guardian.

Though the two are not directly connected, the Guardian’s reporting aimed at drawing parallels between certain interrogation and imprisonment tactics used in Guantanamo and other overseas military facilities, and those used in Chicago.