US bishops praise reprieve of Illinois Death Row inmates

 Following Governor George Ryan's historic decision to decision to grant clemency to all 167 Death Row inmates in the State of Illinois, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, chairman of the US bishops' Domestic Policy Committee issued the following statement last night: 'We welcome and commend Governor George Ryan's decision to grant clemency to all death row inmates in Illinois. His actions highlight once again the fundamental flaws in the use of the death penalty. We pray that this courageous act will lead to a renewed national dialogue on how the use of the death penalty diminishes all of us. We also pray for all of the families who have endured so much loss and pain. Further, we pray that this action moves our nation closer to a day where we no longer seek to defend life by taking life, to overcome violence by more violence.' The death penalty in America was reinstated in 1976. Since that date there have been 820 executions across the country. Nearly 3,700 people are currently on Death Row. Governor Ryan was originally a supporter of capital punishment. However after a commission he set up in Illinois found that the death sentences were given disproportionately to the poor, people from ethnic minorities and in cases in which informers' evidence was used, he changed his mind over the issue. He temporarily halted executions three years ago, after courts found that 13 death row inmates had been wrongly convicted, since Illinois resumed capital punishment in 1977. Source: US Bishops Conference

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