Illinois governor says he will not resume executions

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Gov. George Ryan said Tuesday he will not lift his moratorium on executions during the remaining months of his administration.

Ryan said that, more than two years after halting executions, he still cannot be sure that an innocent person would not be put to death.

"I don't think 99.9 percent is good enough. I won't resume executions during the remainder of my term," said Ryan, who leaves office in January. "You've got to remember how broken this system was. It's pretty bad. As I've said, it was almost whether you were going to live or die ... was a flip of the coin."

The Republican governor imposed the moratorium after several cases in which men were freed from death row because new evidence exonerated them or there were flaws in the way they were convicted.

Since the death penalty was reinstated in Illinois in 1977, 13 men have been freed and 12 have been executed.

Ryan appointed a special commission to study the problem, and it issued a report Monday calling for a major overhaul of the state's death penalty procedures.

Ryan said he has not reviewed the report in detail and probably would not do so in time to propose legislation during the General Assembly's spring session.

He said action on the report can wait until the fall or even next year, after he has left office.

"Even after my term is over, I think this document will live on," Ryan said.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: