Governor George H. Ryan declared a moratorium on the execution of death row inmates in Illinois.
"I now favor a moratorium, because I have grave concerns about our state's shameful record of convicting innocent people and putting them on death row," Ryan said. "And, I believe, many Illinois residents now feel that same deep reservation. I cannot support a system, which, in its administration, has proven to be so fraught with error and has come so close to the ultimate nightmare--the state's taking of innocent life. Thirteen people have been found to have been wrongfully convicted."
Governor Ryan noted that while he still believes the death penalty is a proper societal response for crimes that shock sensibility, he believes Illinois residents are troubled by the persistent problems in the administration of capital punishment. Since the death penalty was reinstated in Illinois in 1977, 12 death row inmates have been executed while 13 have been exonerated.
Ryan said that he will appoint a commission to review the administration of the death penalty in Illinois and that he will not approve any more executions until this review is completed.
"Until I can be sure that everyone sentenced to death in Illinois is truly guilty, until I can be sure with moral certainty that no innocent man or woman is facing a lethal injection, no one will meet that fate," he said. "I am a strong proponent of tough criminal penalties, of supporting laws and programs to help police and prosecutors keep dangerous criminals off the streets. We must ensure the public safety of our citizens, but in doing so we must ensure that the ends of justice are served."