Statement by Robert E. Jones, Manager of The Moratorium Campaign on today’s release of Republican Governor George Ryan’s long anticipated Illinois Commission on Capital Punishment Report

(New Orleans) – The Moratorium Campaign, a New Orleans based nationwide non-profit organization calling for a moratorium on executions, praises the bi-partisan Illinois Commission on Capital Punishment for releasing its comprehensive review of that state’s death penalty system today. The review was ordered by Governor Ryan (R) after the 13th innocent person was discovered on death row in Illinois and he had declared a moratorium on executions until he could be sure with a “moral certainty” that no innocent person would ever be given a death sentence in his state.

The final product of the commission includes over 85 suggested reforms including: drastically reducing aggravating factors, ending the execution of the mentally retarded, video taping police interrogations, prohibiting death sentences based on the testimony of a co-defendant or jailhouse snitch, and more. However, a majority of the commission concluded that even with all of these reforms implemented that the death penalty could never be fully fixed and should be abolished.

The methodology used to conduct this study and comprehensive suggestions provided by the commission should be the benchmark for all of the 37 other death penalty states. Just seven days ago the 100th innocent person was discovered on death rows nationwide and there seems to be no end in sight. The truth of the matter is that Illinois is not the worst state in terms of wrongful convictions – the vast majority of death penalty states have serious problems with the application of the death penalty and prudence demands that they follow in the lead set by Republican Governor George Ryan.

No state is immune to this problem. For example our home state of Louisiana has exonerated one person for every five that we have executed. Serious questions about the application of the death penalty in Louisiana remain unanswered and yet we are poised to resume executions. State legislatures across the country ought to heed the example set by Illinois and commission a comprehensive review of this broken system before we commit the ultimate injustice and execute an innocent person.

A copy of the Illinois Commission on Capital Punishment report can be found at http://www.idoc.state.il.us/ccp/ccp/reports/commission_reports.html


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