- NOVEMBER 12, 2003
penalty under Wharton’s radar
a day for the history books, Jan. 31, 2000, the day that Illinois Gov.
George Ryan declared a moratorium on the death penalty and established
a commission to review the capital punishment system in his state. “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,” Ryan said.
Since Illinois reinstated the death penalty in 1977, 13 inmates on death
row have been cleared of charges.
On Thursday, Nov. 13, at 6 p.m., former Gov. Ryan will debate the death
penalty with Colorado Gov. Bill Owens at Michigan State University’s
Wharton Center. The event is part of a “World View” lecture
series, which will bring world leaders to mid-Michigan, honoring 150
years of higher learning at the university.
The United States is one of the last large, economically developed countries
that enforces the death penalty. Other countries that still execute
people include the non-allied governments of Iraq, Iran and North Korea,
as well as U.S. allies, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
Ryan set up a commission to study the state’s capital-punishment
system, which last year produced a report recommending that the death
penalty not be restored until 85 reforms were made in the system. These
include reducing the number of capital crimes, exempting the mentally
handicapped, and sparing anyone whose guilt was determined primarily
from testimony by an accomplice, prison informant or single eyewitness.
The second speaker, Owens, has also implemented capital punishment reforms
in his state. In 2002 he announced legislation that would return Colorado’s
death penalty sentencing to a unanimous jury decision. “Victim’s
families need certainty that justice will be served in Colorado. This
is a strong agreement that will ensure that our death penalty sentencing
laws will pass constitutional muster, and I look forward to quick passage
of this measure,” Owens said.
The lecture will take place in Wharton Center’s Great Hall. Admission
is $20. Call 432-2000.
- by Daniel Sturm
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