Former Illinois governor to speak on death penalty

Author: Dennis K. Brown


Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan will discuss his decision to commute the sentences of all inmates on the states death row in a talk Feb. 28 (Monday) at the University of Notre Dame.

TitledThe Death Penalty: A System of Justice&Reconciliation?the presentation will begin at7 the Decio Mainstage Theatre of theDeBartoloCenterfor the Performing Arts. It is part of a series of events on and off campus titledLife in the Balance: Death Penalty Perspectives,which begins Wednesday (Feb. 23) and continues through March 2.

Once a proponent of capital punishment, Ryan changed his views after being convinced that the justice system was broken and could not be trusted with taking human life. He instituted the nations first moratorium on state executions in January 2000, and just before leaving office three years later, he commuted the sentences of all 167Illinoisdeath row inmates. A panel discussion on the death penalty inIndianawill follow Ryans presentation.

OtherLife in the Balanceevents on the Notre Dame campus, which are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted, are as follows:

  • Theology on Tap: The Death Penalty,10 p.m., Feb. 23, Legends of Notre Dame – Rev. John Gilmarten will discuss his role as spiritual advisor to Michael Ross, aConnecticutdeath row inmate whose sentence recent was stayed indefinitely.
  • A Prayer of Hope&Witness Against Capital Punishment,8:30 p.m., Feb. 24, Log Chapel – A time of prayer for all affected by capital punishment – victims, families, inmates, advisors, prison staff, attorneys and elected officials.
  • Dead Man Walking,Feb. 26 to March 2, Philbin Studio Theatre,DeBartoloCenterfor the Performing Arts – Presentation of the experimental play written by actor Tim Robbins based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean. Tickets are $8-$12 and can be ordered by calling 574-631-2800.
  • Oklahoma City Bombing: Two Fathers&Forgiveness,noon, March 1, Coleman-Morse lounge – A presentation by Bud Welch, president of Murder Victims Families for Human Rights, whose daughter Julie was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing.
  • National Debate on the Death Penalty: A Panel Discussion,4:15 p.m., March 2, Hesburgh Center auditorium – Panelists will include Madison Hobley, who was found innocent of murder after serving 14 years on Illinoisdeath row; Dick Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center; and Bill Pelke, president of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
  • Inside/Outside: Death Row in Words and Images,Feb. 24-27, OShaughnessy Hall – A traveling exhibit showcases the artistic work of death row inmates from across the country.

Notre Dame sponsors ofLife in the Balanceare the Center for Social Concerns, Campus Ministry, Department of Film, Television and Theatre,DeBartoloCenterfor the Performing Arts, and the campus chapters of the Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Amnesty International, and Right to Life.

TopicID: 9645