Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Illinois Governor Imposes Death Penalty-Moratorium

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Illinois Governor Imposes Death Penalty-Moratorium

Article excerpt

Acknowledging that the death penalty cannot always be carried out infallibly, Gov. George Ryan called for a stay of executions in Illinois while a specially appointed state commission is established to investigate capital punishment procedures.

Illinois' Republican governor, who favors the death penalty, surprised many in and outside the state with his announcement in Chicago Jan. 31.

Ryan called for a moratorium citing "grave concerns about our state's shameful record of convicting innocent people and putting them on death row." He said that he could no longer "support a system which, in its administration, has proven so fraught with error and has come so close to the ultimate nightmare, the state's taking of innocent life."

Illinois has exonerated 13 men on death row, more than the 12 whose life it has taken since the Supreme Court re-instated the death penalty in 1976.

Among the 13 inmates whose death sentences have been reversed -- all within the past six years -- the case of Anthony Porter drew close attention. Held for 15 years on death row, Porter came within two days of being executed when journalism students at Northwestern University in Evanston helped to prove his innocence.

Novelist and Chicago lawyer Scott Turow uncovered new evidence that led to the exoneration of Rolando Cruz and Alejandro Hernandez. Both men served more than a decade on death row for the wrongful conviction of the rape and murder of a lO-year-old girl. In addition, five of the 13 men cleared were exonerated by DNA testing that ruled them out as murderers. …

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