August 12, 2004

Read All About It

My newest AmSpec column looks at the Keyes-Obama race in Illinois, and what a wonderful thing it is-- for the media.

Posted by John Tabin at August 12, 2004 04:52 AM

I find it funny how whenever a Republican does something that actually makes sense, other Republicans take offense. Witness your jibe at George Ryan (the only Republican I ever have or will vote for) for declaring a moratorium on executions in Illinois and ultimately commuting the sentences of Death Row inmates. You may recall that his motivation for doing so was the 11 or so overturned convictions (of predominantly black and latino men) who were wrongly sentenced to death for crimes they were subsequently shown not to have committed.

You'll likely attempt to dismiss the relevance of this by stating that the overturned convictions are proof that the system ultimately works... WRONG!!! The convictions were not overturned do the the machinations of the justice system, but rather due to the efforts of Northwestern Journalism Prof. David Protess and his students. But not for their efforts, this group of men (most of whom had languished in prison for an average of 10 years or more) would've met their wrongful deaths at the hands of the state after convictions garnered with manufactured evidence and the false testimony of racist cops.

These facts, however, don't serve your alarmist agenda. No wonder you omit them and seek to portray Ryan as a bad policy-maker for having done so. Thank goodness he had the courage to take a principled stand against the possibility that other innocent men remained in jeopardy of execution. You may recall that one of the hallmarks of our justice system is the belief that "It is better that a guilty man go free than an innocent man suffer an unjust fate!"


Posted by: Ryan at August 18, 2004 12:08 AM

You say that George Ryan is "the only Republican [you] ever have or will vote for," though I'm not at all sure I believe you; when Ryan ran for office he was in favor of capital punishment, which you obviously oppose passionately. He declined to run for re-election because of the many scandals that plagued his administration.

You say "It is better that a guilty man go free than an innocent man suffer an unjust fate." Really? What if the guilty man is a murderer and the unjustly convicted man serves three months in prison? A triple-murderer, a year? Khalid Sheik Muhammed, ten years? This slogan that you've substituted for thought, as if it ends the conversation, does no such thing.

The fact is, at least since the death penalty returned in the 70s, there has never been a single proven case of an innocent man having been executed, and plenty of people have tried to find one. As for Ryan, he followed his moratorium on executions with exactly nothing on death penalty reform (apart, if memory serves, from a panel that made some recommendations, none of which led to legislation), and his blanket commutation arguably hurt the push for any progress on improving the system.

George Ryan's corruption as Secretary of State killed the Willis children (who perished in an accident with an unqualified trucker who got his trucker's license in exchange for a bribe). His florish at the end of his term denied justice to hundred of families. You're wrong, I don't think Ryan was "a bad policy-maker." I think he's a singularly evil man.

Posted by: John Tabin at August 26, 2004 08:17 PM