Bush Urged to Follow Illinois Lead on Death Penalty

The debate has just begun. And we have just begun to fight. Activists around the world on Sunday applauded the move by the governor of Illinois to spare death row prisoners from execution and urged President Bush to follow his lead by abolishing the death penalty.

Death penalty foes view Governor Ryan's decision as a chance for more change.

Governor Ryan is the third Governor to clear death row during his term in office--New Mexico and Arkansas governors have done the same thing. We need a moratorium in every state, and on the imposition of the federal death penalty as well.

We need a national review commission to study the innocence cases and find ways to prevent the re-occurrance of these injustices.

We need funding and training for adequate capital defense lawyers.

We need the Innocence Protection Act to pass Congress and to be introduced in every state.

All police interrogations must be videotaped.

We must stop the execution of the mentally ill and of offenders who were under 18 at the time of their crimes.

"Among those executed in the U.S. last year were a mentally ill man, inmates who had been deprived of legal rights and three under 18 at the time of their crimes -- the only three child offenders known to have been judicially executed anywhere in 2002....The United States and Japan are the only industrialized democracies in which the death penalty is still used."

There are many more reforms needed. Until they are all implemented, we need to stop the executions. The chance is just too great that we are going to execute an innocent person, if we haven't already.

Vengeance is not justice.

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