A man who spent 30 years behind bars walked out of prison a free man and into the arms of his two daughters, lawyers and friends earlier today, the Associated Press reports.
Fifty-nine-year-old Stanley Wrice has maintained his innocence since he was arrested in 1982. Wrice was accused of rape, yet he claimed he had nothing to do with the crime and insisted that he had been beaten around the groin and face by the Chicago police until he confessed.
He was found guilty and sentenced to 100 years in prison.
On Tuesday, Cook County Judge Richard Walsh overturned his conviction, saying officers lied about how they had treated Wrice, AP reports.
From the early 1970s and into the 1980s under former Lt. Jon Burge, the Chicago Police Department had a history of torturing witnesses into falsely implicating people in crimes, AP reports.
Wrice had insisted for years that he confessed to the 1982 sexual assault only after being beaten by police. At the hearing Tuesday, a witness testified that he falsely implicated Wrice in the rape after two Chicago police officers under Burge's command tortured him, AP reports.
Dozens of men—almost all of them black—claimed that Burge and his officers beat or shocked them into confessing to crimes ranging from armed robbery to murder. According to AP, Wrice now joins those men who in recent years have been released from prison because they were tortured into confessing.
According to AP, Burge is serving a four-and-a-half-year sentence in federal prison for perjury and obstruction of justice after he lied in a civil suit, saying he'd never witnessed or participated in the torture of suspects. Because of Burge's reign of terror, Chicago has paid out millions of dollars to settle lawsuits.
To date, no Chicago police officers have been convicted of torturing suspects, and officers accused of beating Wrice with flashlights and rubber pipes invoked their Fifth-Amendment rights at Wrice's hearing on Tuesday.
But, Wrice is not completely free. A special prosecutor must decide whether to retry him now that he has been released.
Wrice walked out of prison carrying a small box filled with photographs, legal papers and letters, all the memories he wants to keep from his three decades in prison, AP reports. Wrice's immediate plans now that he is free: A cheeseburger and a good night's rest.
"It's just an overwhelming feeling of joy, happiness that finally it's over with," said Wrice.
Read more at Associated Press.