No more death row

In 2000 Governor George Ryan of Illinois declared a moratorium on executions. He was horrified that innocent men had nearly been executed on his watch, and he was impressed by stories in the Chicago Tribune detailing the problems of his state’s capital punishment system. Ryan established a commission to study the system and propose reforms. In 2002 the commission issued its report, which included 85 specific recommendations. Fearful of the political consequences, the Illinois legislature refused to enact even one of the proposals. So in January 2003 Ryan dramatically commuted the sentences of the remaining 167 death row inmates.


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