Debating the Death Penalty: Should America Have Capital Punishment? The Experts on Both Sides Make Their Best Case

By Hugo Adam Bedau; Paul G. Cassell | Go to book overview

8
“I Must Act”
George Ryan

The following is the prepared text of Governor George Ryan's speech delivered at Northwestern University College of Law on January 11, 2003, announcing his commutation of all of Illinois's death sentences.

Four years ago I was sworn in as the 39th governor of Illinois. That was just four short years ago; that's when I was a firm believer in the American System of Justice and the death penalty. I believed that the ultimate penalty for the taking of a life was administrated in a just and fair manner.

Today, three days before I end my term as governor, I stand before you to explain my frustrations and deep concerns about both the administration and the penalty of death. It is fitting that we are gathered here today at Northwestern University with the students, teachers, lawyers and investigators who first shed light on the sorrowful condition of Illinois' death penalty system. Professors Larry Marshall, Dave Protess, and their students along with investigators Paul Ciolino have gone above the call. They freed the falsely accused Ford Heights Four, they

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Debating the Death Penalty: Should America Have Capital Punishment? The Experts on Both Sides Make Their Best Case
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • 1 - Tinkering with Death* 1
  • 2 - An Abolitionist's Survey of the Death Penalty in America Today 15
  • Notes *
  • 3 - Why the Death Penalty is Morally Permissible* 51
  • Notes 74
  • 4 - Close to Death: Reflections on Race and Capital Punishment in America 76
  • Notes *
  • 5 - Truth and Consequences: the Penalty of Death 117
  • Notes *
  • 6 - Why the United States Will Join the Rest of the World in Abandoning Capital Punishment 152
  • Notes *
  • 7 - In Defense of the Death Penalty 183
  • Notes *
  • 8 - I Must Act 218
  • Contributors 235
  • Acknowledgments 237
  • Index 238
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