Re "Illinois Governor Commutes All Death Row Cases," Jan. 12: Hooray for Gov. George Ryan! When appeals came to him, he read all of the court records and he interviewed the prosecutors, the defense attorneys and the police who were involved. He agonized, he prayed and, in the end, he found the system so flawed that he could not bring himself to condemn anyone on death row.
The only part of the system that worked in Illinois was Gov. Ryan. The death row inmates who were previously found to be innocent and were released were not discovered by prosecutors, police or appeals courts but by college students and others outside the system. Ryan is correct; the system is broken. It is equally broken in the other states.
I have one question to ask those who favor capital punishment: How many innocent people are you willing to kill in order to kill one guilty person?
Blanket pardons and commutations are wrong. They subvert justice and the will of the people. Commuting the sentences of those who are guilty beyond all doubt and who have been justly and properly convicted and sentenced is almost as reprehensible as executing innocent men.
I applaud Ryan for pardoning four death row inmates who spent years behind bars for crimes they did not commit (Jan. 11). Finally, a politician with courage. He declared a moratorium on executions in 2000, despite criticism from death penalty supporters. We need more people like him speaking out against a system that is easily corrupted by police and district attorneys eager to win points for their convictions.
How can Cook County State's Atty. Richard Devine call the pardons of four innocent men outrageous and unconscionable? The only thing outrageous and unconscionable about these cases is that the police officers who tortured these men into false confessions are still walking the streets as free men.
Ryan -- now there's a compassionate conservative.
Congratulations to Ryan, a Republican, for having the fortitude and integrity to review the Illinois system of death sentencing. It is a courageous stand for him to take, considering he was an advocate for capital punishment. Now, if only California's Democratic governor would do the same. Of course, that would generate a lot of criticism on the right-wing talk shows and could make Gray Davis too risky as a future presidential candidate. Never mind.