Not much to add to this, really.
Ryan issues blanket clemency (Chicago Tribune, registration may be required)
Gov. George Ryan [Republican; aren't party affilitions usually mentioned when elected officials are written about? - Ed] commuted the sentences of every inmate on Illinois' death row Saturday in an unprecedented action, saying the "demon of error" makes the state's death penalty process immoral.
Ryan's action less than two days before leaving office capped his three-year campaign to reform the death penalty process that began when he declared a moratorium on executions. On Friday, he pardoned four death row inmates who he said were wrongfully convicted.
Some of the men Ryan pardoned were in the audience for his nationally televised speech at Northwestern University law school, during which he framed the death penalty issue as "one of the great civil rights struggles of our time."
Ryan said three years of study since he declared a moratorium on executions in 2000 only raised more questions about the how the death penalty is imposed in Illinois. He cited problems with trials, sentencing, the appeals process and the state's "spectacular failure" to reform a system that has condemned innocent men to die.
"Our capital system is haunted by the demon of error error in determining guilt, and error in determining who among the guilty deserves to die," Ryan said. "Because of all these reasons, today I am commuting the sentences of all death row inmates."
[. . .] "Because the Illinois death penalty system is arbitrary and capricious and therefore immoral I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death," Ryan said.
Normally, at this point, I'd have a look around the right-wing blogs to see what damned foolishness they have to say about this, but I can't work up the interest right now.
At a guess, they're going to either maintain the polite fiction that race plays no role whatsoever in the courts, or insist that (all) black people actually support the death penalty, and (all) are opposed to this decision by the outgoing governor, etc.
All without bothering to speak to an actual black person.
The Trib also has a brief write-up on Emmett Till's recently deceased mother Mamie Till-Mobley, Rising from a mother's grief:
If anyone ever had a reason to hate somebody, it was the mother of Emmett Till. Yet Mamie Till-Mobley refused to do that.
Her only child was just 14 when she received word of his racially motivated murder in Mississippi in 1955. The Chicago teen was abducted at gunpoint in the middle of the night from the home of relatives he was visiting near Money, Miss. He was found three days later in the Tallahatchie River, shot in the head, beaten beyond recognition and tied to a 75-pound cotton gin fan. Why? His assailants thought he had whistled at a white woman, breaking an unwritten code of the segregated South.
His face and skull were so badly beaten that he was identified by a ring on his finger that had belonged to his late father.
Emmett Till's murder might not have attracted much more notice than hundreds of similar racial atrocities that preceded it in Mississippi, had his mother, in her anguish and grief, not demanded a glass-topped coffin so that the world could see her son's brutal disfigurement.
Her service was held earlier this afternoon, at Apostolic Church of God.
Her son's alleged killers, last I heard, were still free men.
Further proof that race plays no role in the courts, that.