Dr. Mark Berlin named 2023 Sabbatical Fellowship Award winner

Dr. Mark Berlin, associate professor of political science in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, has been named the 2023-24 Sabbatical Fellowship Award winner.

The Sabbatical Review Committee nominates the Sabbatical Fellowship Award winner, who receives a fully funded sabbatical for the academic year.

Berlin’s research generally focuses on the politics of justice and accountability for violations of human rights and the laws of war. His previous work, which includes his first book “Criminalizing Atrocity: The Global Spread of Criminal Laws against International Crimes,” examined the prevention and prosecution of large-scale atrocities, like war crimes and genocide, mostly in authoritarian and newly democratizing countries.

Receiving the Sabbatical Fellowship Award will help Berlin pursue his latest project, which examines the decades-long history of torture by Chicago Police detectives against ordinary criminal suspects. He will work to complete data collection and analysis for a new book that uses the Chicago Police torture scandal to examine the unique legal and political dynamics of human rights violations and accountability in wealthy liberal democracies.

For nearly twenty years beginning in the early 1970s, Chicago Police detectives used torture to extract confessions from at least one hundred criminal suspects, the vast majority of whom were Black men. Many torture victims would be convicted of crimes they did not commit, including several who would sit on death row for decades. All the while, the constellation of institutions that research generally expects to curb such long-term patterns – independent courts, democratically elected governments, civilian oversight agencies, a free press, and a robust civil society – all failed to do so. The purpose of Berlin’s latest project is to understand why these institutions failed to respond to public allegations of CPD torture in the ways that general theories predict they should have.

He will be recognized at the Distinguished Scholars Reception on Tuesday, April 4.