View Full Version : Illinois Death Row Sentences Commuted
Sun, 12th Jan '03, 10:13am
I'm surprised no one posted about this yet...
Sun, 12th Jan '03, 12:20pm
My parents had told me about this. They still live in Chicago. I am surprised, but then again I am not surprised. Ryan was, in my opinion, a damn good governor. I can see his reasoning for doing it. Well his reasons, that is. A lot of politicians do stuff like this when they leave office. Clinton did it too. I agree that there are problems with our judicial system and sometimes innocent people go to jail. But come on, that many people innocent? It was just a bad mistake on his part, a very bad mistake. I think ultimately his reason for doing this was political.
I voted for Ryan when he ran for office before I left IL. I'm disappointed that he did that for what was it, 167 inmates? I think he just screwed his future political career a bit too.
Sun, 12th Jan '03, 12:38pm
If this wasn't a political stunt, and he really believed in what he did you have got to admire him. The lashback from this from the people who enjoy executions and those who believe the people whose sentences were changed will be all over the news. Hopefully this will start a good review of the death penalty.
He does have a good point about errors being made, it is the one flaw in the 'eye for an eye' system of punishment.
Sun, 12th Jan '03, 2:39pm
What do you think about it?
Mon, 13th Jan '03, 1:00am
I think he doesn't have any more right to do that than the judges had to convict them. He didn't really do anything by pardoning all those criminals - the problem won't go away because of it. Arguably, maybe there are some wrongly convicted people on that list who got another chance now. But there are definitely also many criminals there who deserve the death penalty for what they've done, and won't get it now. I'm sure he wouldn't have done it if the murderer of anyone he knew was on that list.
Mon, 13th Jan '03, 3:23am
Just to make a few things clear --
(1) It probably wasn't a political stunt. He's an old man leaving office and this has destroyed his political capital. Also, read the article, he's long had reservations regarding the death penalty.
(2) He didn't pardon all these men he commuted their sentences. They will now serve life in prison. He did also reduce the sentences of three men. He had previously pardoned some men after for various reasons which undermined the credibility of their convictions(some due to the work of students at Northwestern who took it upon themselves to discover the truth.) He pardoned 4 other men after there was evidence they were convicted as a result of confessions gained through torture.
(3) Judges don't convict anyone juries do.
(4) This was within his rights, even the prosecutors in the article admit it was within his rights -- they're trying to find a way to fight it but admit that they probably can't short of a constitutional amendment (which would not affect those who had their sentences commuted since an amendment wouldn't function retroactively.)
[ January 13, 2003, 03:24: Message edited by: Laches ]
Mon, 13th Jan '03, 5:12am
To be perfectly honest, I don't really see it as a big deal.
Yes; there are a number of them that had actually confessed to their crimes.
Like Laches already said, the problem still exists. And it exists in every other state, county, and district.
There are two ways of looking at the situation: For the good of the many. And for the good of the individual.
There are entirely too many other screwed up things going on; this is like putting a band-aid on a severed limb.
Anyways, the only good it may do is cause a whole lot of controversy. And, maybe, a few states will take a real close look at all their death row inmates.
Remember: The Titanic had to sink before they started putting a radio operator on-duty 24/7...
Mon, 13th Jan '03, 5:36am
You posted this on the week end and it is a ghost town here at that time..
Personaly, I have a problem with the death penalty simply for the same reasons this man has decided to stay executions:
If I know some ****er has committed a abomninable crime I have no problem wiping their face off the earth. But human nature is too subjective too reason well.
My problem lies with human nature: the need to find a scapegoat, or anyone who will fit the profile just to appease a need for retribution. We cannot dismiss this need and the subsequent yen for 'lynching' that follows. I would rather save the few innocents if put to the test, than kill 'em all and let a few more pay the price for evil people.
Mon, 13th Jan '03, 1:56pm
I remember when this story first came up - some undergraduates doing a bit of research for their course found that the convictions of a significant number people on Death Row were dangerously unsound, and they had to be released pretty much straight away. Personally I'm against the death penalty anyway, but it's obvious how the glaring errors in the legal system in Illinois could turn the governor, who was strongly in favour of the death penalty, to being unable to trust the absolute security of any conviction. I don't think he'll gain or lose anything by what he's done, but as he said, he'll probably have a clearer conscience in himself. I haven't got the details of the original cases, but I'm sure I could find them if I dug a little.
Mon, 13th Jan '03, 4:16pm
Bravo. The death penalty should be abolished.
Mon, 13th Jan '03, 4:26pm
On point 3, judges do convict. You should request trial by judge if you're guilty, and trial by jury if you're innocent. That's the rule of thumb in American courts.
[ January 13, 2003, 16:27: Message edited by: Yochimbo ]
Mon, 13th Jan '03, 10:03pm
Yochi, it's hardly a rule of thumb. One of the most famous cases in point -- O.J. Waiving your right to a trial by jury is rare in a felony case.
Mon, 13th Jan '03, 11:34pm
I wouldn't go that far, Jack. But there are people that have been on Death Row since the 1960's. And DNA forensics and ambitious prosecutors just weren't the same back then.
And don't forget; there's a JURY in felony cases. Just like a politician plays to the polls, prosecutors play to the jury. And, to be perfectly honest about it, the average juror nowadays just does not instill confidence in me, as far as the United States Judicial Branch is concerned.
To be honest, I don't really know what the Judical System is like on the books. But I'm willing to bet that if any of us took a look through the court cases that were lined up, I bet it would be a fairly religious experience.
"Jesus H. Christ."