Saturday, July 5, 2008


"The death penalty is about revenge and hate, and revenge and hate is why my daughter and those 167 other people are dead today."

Bud Welch, father of Julie Marie Welch,
victim in the Oklahoma City bombing

"I have come to believe that the death penalty is not what will help me heal. Responding to one killing with another killing does not honor my daughter, nor does it help create the kind of society I want to live in, where human life and human rights are valued. I know that an execution creates another grieving family, and causing pain to another family does not lessen my own pain."

MVFHR board member, Vicki Schieber, testifying to the Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Civil Rights and Property Rights; Committee on the Judiciary; US Senate, February 2006

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Deadline - The movie

Governor George H. Ryan

Gov. George H. Ryan

During a single term as governor of Illinois from 1999 to 2003, Republican George H. Ryan made a name for himself by advocating for the reform of his state’s troubled capital punishment system. As a state legislator, he voted to bring the death penalty back to Illinois in 1977 after the Supreme Court’s Gregg v. Georgia decision. In 2000, after major problems in the system came to his attention, Governor Ryan issued a moratorium on all executions in Illinois and established a commission to evaluate Illinois’ entire capital punishment system. In 2003, after the commission issued its exhaustive study that documented serious flaws, he ordered special one-hour clemency hearings for every person on death row. At the end of his term as governor, he pardoned 4 death row inmates with strong claims of innocence, and commuted to life in prison the sentences of the remaining 167 inmates awaiting execution in Illinois. This was the first time any governor of any state in the union had issued a “blanket clemency�? of this magnitude, and it underscored Governor Ryan’s fear that the flawed administration of Illinois’ capital punishment laws might some day lead to the execution of an innocent man or woman. A one-time pharmacist from the small town of Kankakee, Governor Ryan retired from politics after the end of his gubernatorial term in 2003. He was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 and 2004.

Learn More

The Center on Wrongful Convictions
One of the driving forces behind Governor Ryan's decision was this organization which is dedicated to identifying and rectifying wrongful convictions and other serious miscarriages of justice in Illinois and around the country. The organization consists of lawyers, professors, and Northwestern Law Students dedicated to identifying and rectifying wrongful cases of criminal justice.

The Center's website also includes information about each of the Illinois' innocence cases, including Anthony Porter whose exoneration influenced Governor Ryan's decision to place a moratorium on the death penalty. Download the brief that was co-written by one of Northwestern's journalism students, Shawn Armbrust, who is featured in the film.

The Death Penalty Information Center's Section on Illinois' Commission on Capital Punishment
The Death Penalty Information Center has assembled press materials and Web links to provide easy access to information regarding the work of the Illinois Commission on Capital Punishment, a blue-ribbon panel that has recently completed the nation's most comprehensive state review of the death penalty. The Commission's findings and recommendations captured the attention of lawmakers and legal experts throughout the nation who are watching closely to track the impact of this review beyond Illinois. The Commission's recommendations aim to address problems Illinois Governor George Ryan identified including potential safeguards to prevent the possible conviction and execution of innocent inmates.

The Deadline DVD features more of Governor Ryan, including additional excerpts from his interview with the directors and his clemency speech, as well as a “Ryan and the Death Penalty�? timeline.

Read more about Illinois in our state by state map.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Supreme Court Looks At Death Penalty

Last updated 1:29 pm CT January 08, 2008

Supreme Court Looks At Death Penalty

The US Supreme Court is hearing arguments Monday about whether lethal injections violate a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Attorneys for two Kentucky death row inmates argue the injections cause undue suffering. If the court agrees. Illinois along with 13 other states would have to change their laws before resuming executions.

Executions nationwide are on hold until the Supreme Court rules. Sarah Heyer sits on the board of the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. She questions whether executions give closure to victims and their families.

"It's more painful for the families to have to be brought back in again and again, where with life without parole you can just put them away and shut the door," said Heyer.

Former Governor George Ryan stayed more than 170 executions before leaving office. and placed a moratorium on the death penalty after more than a dozen inmates were exonerated.

According to the FBI- the climb in violent crime the past two years is over. The agency reports violent crime, including murders, rapes and robberies, dropped by nearly 2% between January and June of 2007.

The data shows that violent crime dropped dramatically in cities of a million or more residents.there murders decreased by 6.5% and rapes by 14%. Smaller cities and rural areas, however, saw a slight one percentage point *increase* in violence.

George H. Ryan is nominated for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize

George H. Ryan is nominated for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize

University of Illinois Law and Human Rights Professor Francis A. Boyle has nominated George H. Ryan for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize. The current growing moratorium movement spreading across the United States is a reality directly connected to Ryan's courageous opposition to the death penalty both in the US and around the world, and to his visionary action to impose the first US moratorium against the death penalty in 2000.

Due to George Ryan's commitment to humanitarian principles and his tireless efforts to create dialogue in support of seeking justice for the 3,350 men and women warehoused on death rows throughout the US, the United States Supreme Court has in effect imposed a nation wide moratorium on executions. George Ryan's dream to end governmental killing has temporarily come to fruition.

The growing momentum for the outright abolition of the death penalty in the United States is due to the heroic efforts of George H. Ryan. He has done more effective work against the death penalty than the entire American Abolitionist Movement put together. For that reason the world should award him the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize.

For information contact :

Francis A. Boyle
Law Building
504 E. Pennsylvania Ave.
Champaign, IL 61820 USA
217-333-7954 (phone)
217-244-1478 (fax)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Chicago Near Police Torture Settlement

Chicago Near Police Torture Settlement

CHICAGO (AP) — The city is near approval of a $20 million settlement that would end lawsuits brought by four former death-row inmates whose claims of police torture led to a re-examination of capital punishment.

Final paperwork has been approved, and the City Council can vote on the settlement next week, city law department spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle said Friday.

The council was supposed to vote last month, but paperwork problems postponed the action.

The four inmates — Aaron Patterson, Leroy Orange, Stanley Howard and Madison Hobley — claim they were tortured by police and wrongly convicted. George Ryan, governor at the time, pardoned them in 2003 and commuted the sentences of every death row inmate in the state.

Friday, January 4, 2008

George Ryan is nominated for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize

I just nominated George Ryan for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize because of his courageous and heroic opposition to the death penalty, that has now culminated in the National Moratorium that we now see in the United States.

Francis A. Boyle
Law Building
504 E. Pennsylvania Ave.
Champaign, IL 61820 USA
217-333-7954 (Voice)
217-244-1478 (Fax)
(personal comments only)