With his colleagues at the People’s Law Office (PLO), Taylor has argued landmark civil rights cases that have exposed corruption and cover-ups within the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and throughout the city’s corrupt political machine.
The Torture Machine takes the reader from the 1969 murders of Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton and Panther Mark Clark—and the historic, thirteen-years of litigation that followed—through the dogged pursuit of commander Jon Burge, the leader of a torture ring within the CPD that used barbaric methods, including electric shock, to elicit false confessions from suspects.
Joining forces with community activists, torture survivors and their families, other lawyers, and local reporters, Taylor and the PLO gathered evidence from multiple cases to bring suit against the CPD officers and the City of Chicago. As the struggle expanded beyond the torture scandal to the ultimately successful campaign to end the death penalty in Illinois, and obtained reparations for many of the torture survivors, it set human rights precedents that have since been adopted across the United States.
"If it was not for Flint Taylor I would still be languishing in prison. He brought hope to a hopeless place." —Darrell Cannon, Torture survivor
"It is impossible to fully understand the continuing challenges created by unjustifiable police violence against black and brown people without appreciating the historical backdrop that sustains this national crisis. Flint Taylor's powerful new book, informed by his decades as one of the most effective advocates addressing these issues, is a must read." —Bryan Stevenson, best-selling author of Just Mercy
"Taylor is a walking passcode to CPD misconduct. It was Taylor and his colleagues who unearthed the crimes committed by the “Midnight Crew,” a squad of racist cops who tortured blacks to extract their false confessions." —Rolling Stone
"Taylor's The Torture Machine is a sad but necessary reminder of how citizens can be victimized by those who are supposed to protect them and how that abuse can poison entire neighborhoods. But it is also a story of a hard-won hope that resulted in some degree of justice for victims and an effort to remind children of what once happened in the hope that it won't be repeated. The book is a chronicle of tenacity and hope alongside brutality and injustice, and in that way it is a profoundly Chicago story." —Psychology Today
"[A] searing memoir... essential reading for all who care about this country—past and future." —Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Blood in the Water
"Incredible and devastating." —Jeremy Scahill
"If you want to understand what actually happened to those Jon Burge tortured read this book. " —Anthony Holmes, Torture survivor
"[Torture Machine] is a riveting account...a forensic analysis of decades of collusion between judges, politicians, prosecutors and the police to engage in systemic human rights violations." —Juan Gonzalez
"[A] harrowing tale...Taylor illuminates in graphic detail the scars caused by some of the worst elements of law enforcement in a city perpetually beset by violence." —Kirkus
"Harrowing...Taylor writes with conviction and empathy." —Publishers Weekly
"[A] compelling book...." — Booklist, Starred Review
"This book is a powerful testament to their courage and determination and is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand what can happen when those in power condone violations of civil and constitutional rights for political expediency." —Mary E. Howell, Civil Rights Attorney
"A stunning, sweeping history of police violence in Chicago, and Flint Taylor's lifelong pursuit of racial justice. Quite literally the work of a lifetime." —Alison Flowers, Author of Exoneree Diaries: The Fight for Innocence, Independence, and Identity
"[A]n indispensable and searing account of the barbarous regime of policing under Jon Burge, and the ongoing fight for justice." —Martha Biondi, author of To Stand and Fight. James Thindwa, Labor Activist and Board Member, In These Times.
"[A]n unsparing dissection of foundational racism in the criminal justice system ... It could not be more timely." —Jaime Kalven, Investigative Reporter, Executive Director, Invisible Institute
"Each victim's case is a fascinating story in itself while the totality of the lawyers' efforts fighting a resistant establishment is staggering." —The Observer