“I Must Act”
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