|Gov. George Ryan, Illinois
years ago, Ryan halted executions in Illinois. Out of 25 people
on Illinois' death row, 12 were executed and 13 exonerated, so
Ryan halted a system that he says was "like flipping a coin."
This spring, a commission appointed by Ryan recommended 85 ways
to prevent executions of the innocent.
GOVERNOR RYAN DECLARES MORATORIUM ON EXECUTIONS, WILL APPOINT
COMMISSION TO REVIEW CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SYSTEM
January 31, 2000 - CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today
declared a moratorium on executions of any more Illinois Death
Row inmates until a Commission he will appoint to conduct a review
of the administration of the death penalty in Illinois can make
recommendations to him.
"I now favor a moratorium, because I have grave concerns
about our state's shameful record of convicting innocent people
and putting them on death row," Governor Ryan said. "And,
I believe, many Illinois residents now feel that same deep reservation.
I cannot support a system, which, in its administration, has proven
to be so fraught with error and has come so close to the ultimate
nightmare, the state's taking of innocent life. Thirteen people
have been found to have been wrongfully convicted."
Governor Ryan noted that while he still believes the death penalty
is a proper societal response for crimes that shock sensibility,
he believes Illinois residents are troubled by the persistent
problems in the administration of capital punishment in Illinois.
Since the death penalty was reinstated in Illinois in 1977, 12
Death Row inmates have been executed while 13 have been exonerated.
"How do you prevent another Anthony Porter -- another innocent
man or woman from paying the ultimate penalty for a crime he or
she did not commit?" Governor Ryan said referring to the
former inmate whose execution was stayed by the Illinois Supreme
Court after new evidence emerged clearing him of the capital offense.
"Today, I cannot answer that question."
Governor Ryan said he will not approve any more executions until
this review of the administration of the death penalty is completed.
"Until I can be sure that everyone sentenced to death in
Illinois is truly guilty, until I can be sure with moral certainty
that no innocent man or woman is facing a lethal injection, no
one will meet that fate," Governor Ryan said. "I am
a strong proponent of tough criminal penalties, of supporting
laws and programs to help police and prosecutors keep dangerous
criminals off the streets. We must ensure the public safety of
our citizens but, in doing so, we must ensure that the ends of
justice are served."
While noting that the General Assembly, the Illinois Attorney
General and the Illinois Supreme Court are all studying the death
penalty issue and issuing reports and recommendations, Governor
Ryan said more review and debate is critical.
"As Governor, I am ultimately responsible, and although I
respect all that these leaders have done and I will consider all
that they say, I believe that a public dialogue must begin on
the question of the fairness of the application of the death penalty
in Illinois," Governor Ryan said.
Find out more about
the Gov. Ryan's Commission on Capital Punishment
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