Death Row Decision

George Ryan
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Illinois Gov. George Ryan says he had no choice but to commute the sentences of all prisoners currently sitting on death row. Ryan made the announcement in a speech at the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago.

He said he could not have lived with himself if he had not changed the sentences because the state's death penalty is immoral. Ryan says it was the toughest thing he had to do as governor and knows that he will be heavily criticized for his decision. Ryan's decision means that all 156 inmates will be taken off death row. Out of that number, 153 will have their sentences changed to life in prison without the opportunity for parole.

Three inmates will have their sentences reduced, and could eventually be released. This is the largest emptying of death row inmates in the history of the United States