A $24 million settlement for three of four men wrongfully convicted in the “Englewood Four” case was approved Thursday by the Cook County Board.
The three — Michael Saunders, Harold Richardson and Vincent Thames — along with Terrill Swift, each spent nearly 16 years in prison for the 1994 rape and murder of 30-year-old Nina Glover.
At the time the four men confessed, each was between 15 and 18 years old. They later said their confessions were coerced. DNA evidence proved their innocence, and their conviction was overturned in 2011 releasing Richardson and Saunders after nearly 17 years, while Thames and Swift had already been released.
The county’s settlement will be split between the three men.
All four eventually sued. The settlement approved Thursday follows a $24.25 million settlement for the three cases from the city. Swift already settled with Cook County and Chicago in 2017.
Also on Thursday, the board voted unanimously to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. The ordinance prohibits the sale and distribution of tobacco products including cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vapes to those under 21.
The law will go into effect June 1. Cook County will join Lake County and dozens of other municipalities — including Aurora, Chicago, Evanston and Skokie — that already have made the change. One year after Chicago’s minimum purchase age was raised in 2016, the use of tobacco products among city teens declined 36 percent, according to the American Lung Association.
The ordinance was proposed by Commissioner Scott Britton, who said the issue was a personal one; his father had died from lung cancer after starting to smoke at a young age.
Commissioner Kevin Morrison, who began smoking as a teenager, was among the sponsors. He called the minimum age increase a positive step in public health.
“I would not have begun smoking in the first place had (cigarettes) not been provided to me as a 15-year-old by my elder classmates,” Morrison said in a statement. “I regret every day the first time I picked up a cigarette, and … we must do whatever we can to see that tobacco and nicotine products stay out of the hands of our youth.”