Dear Democracy Now! Visitor: We are an independent, ad-free daily news program that serves millions of viewers and listeners each month. In this US election year, Democracy Now! is more important than ever. For 20 years, we’ve put a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power. We lift up the stories of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. We do all of this with just a fraction of the budget and staff of a commercial news show. We do it without ads, corporate sponsorship or government funding. How is this possible? Only with your support. A generous funder will match your donation dollar for dollar if you donate right now. That means when you give $10, your donation will be worth $20. Pretty exciting, right? So, if you've been waiting to make your contribution to Democracy Now!, today is your day. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you every day.

Your Donation: $

Illinois Governor Commutes Death Sentences of 167 Inmates

January 13, 2003
Story
WATCH FULL SHOW

In the sharpest blow to death penalty in 30 years, the governor of Illinois has granted clemency to 167 inmates on death row.

Gov. George Ryan said, "How many more cases of wrongful convictions have to occur before we can all agree that this system in Illinois is broken?"

Ryan, who leaves office today, stopped short of pardoning the prisoners but reduced their sentences to a maximum of life in prison.

The blanket commutation follows an examination of the state’s capital punishment system that determined 13 prisoners on death row were innocent.

Ryan said he was a staunch supporter of the death penalty when he took office four years ago, but began to change his mind after watching a wrongfully convicted man walk free — only 48 hours before he was scheduled to be executed.

On Friday Ryan also pardoned four men convicted of murder, saying confessions were tortured out of them by police in Chicago.

In Washington, Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin called for a national review of the death penalty and a moratorium on executions.

Guest:

  • Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington D.C.

Related link:


The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.