John Conroy is best known for his play, My Kind of Town, his two books (Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics of Torture and Belfast Diary: War as a Way of Life), and his extensive and ground-breaking coverage of the Chicago police torture scandal, which involved more than 100 victims.
John’s coverage of the scandal ultimately helped to gain pardons for four men who had been sentenced to death and helped free another man who had been wrongfully imprisoned for 26 years. The four who were pardoned sued the city of Chicago, alleging that they had been tortured into confessing to murders they had not committed, and in early 2008, the city settled their suits for $19.8 million. In the wake of the settlement, the New York Times quoted the mother of one of the victims saying she thought her son would be dead but for Conroy’s articles. Chicago police commander Jon Burge, who had overseen the torture, was sent to federal prison in March, 2011, 38 years after he began torturing suspects. No other officers were ever indicted.
John’s play, My Kind of Town, is set in Chicago against the backdrop of that scandal, but its themes are universal. Characters wrestle with family loyalty, the desire to protect friends and institutions, and the personal and political consequences of telling painful truths. Rolling Stone called the 2012 production at TimeLine Theatre “a masterpiece,” Time magazine’s critic wrote of its “spellbinding power,” and the Chicago Sun-Times reviewed it as “something of a miracle…vividly real human beings caught up in hellish dilemmas and warp-tight, searingly truthful exchanges.”
John’s award-winning journalism has been published in newspapers and magazines in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. His video of a police shooting in a Chicago el station has had more than 2.2 million views on YouTube. He has also written speeches, reports, and editorials for private clients. He designed and taught DePaul College of Law’s first Fact Investigations course and has lectured frequently at universities, law schools and public defender conferences.
He is now the Senior Investigator at the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, a nonprofit law firm, where he works on wrongful conviction and civil rights cases.