Author Discusses How Ordinary People Become Torturers

(St. Petersburg, Fla.) February 3, 2010 – Through his reporting and writing, author John Conroy examines how ordinary people put into extraordinary circumstances can become torturers or silent witnesses to torture. He has explored the topic in two books and numerous articles. His latest work, a two-act play based on the Chicago police torture scandal he uncovered, was recently written about in the New York Times.

Conroy will discuss his work during a free lecture, “How to Make a Torturer,” Monday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. at USF St. Petersburg.

This event is sponsored by the Honors Program at USFSP, the USFSP Leslie E. and Marie Cole Chair in Ethics, and the Department of History, Government and International Affairs.

Event Location: Steidinger Auditorium at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, 100 8th Ave SE. For more information, call 873-4872.

Information from

John Conroy is best known for his two books (Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics of Torture and Belfast Diary: War as a Way of Life) and for his extensive and ground-breaking coverage of the Chicago police torture scandal, which involved more than 100 victims. Conroy’s articles were cited in cases argued before the Illinois Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals and ultimately helped to free four men who had been resident on death row in Illinois. The four, pardoned by Governor George Ryan in January 2003, 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 the 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.

John Conroy’s work has been published in a variety of newspapers and magazines in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and his reports on criminal justice issues can also be heard on Chicago Public Radio.

-USF St. Petersburg-