"Those monsters who prey on society should face the death penalty."
I am both saddened and sickened by Illinois Gov. George Ryan's commutations of death sentences in our neighboring state. By his stroke of the pen, 167 condemned men now will spend their lives in prison, hopefully without the possibility of parole. But given the power of the legislative process even that issue could remain in doubt.
Ryan is in hot water. His administration has been under federal investigation for four years. Many of his aides, friends and co-workers have been indicted for election fraud and Ryan may well be next. It's obvious to see that Ryan deflected much of that spotlight when he commuted the death sentences less that 48 hours before leaving office.
I am an advocate of the death penalty as the ultimate punishment a civilized society can bring to bear. If someone kills a dozen children, for example, spending their remaining years in prison is far from just punishment. Those monsters who prey on society should face the death penalty.
Just consider that thousands of common Illinois citizens who spent countless agonizing hours in jury duty listening to evidence in each of these cases. And then consider that thousands of hours of review were held to assure that these killers deserve the ultimate punishment. Ryan in a single moment rendered all of that work as useless.
If Ryan hoped to leave a legacy by his bold 11th-hour move, he may well have. But it may not be the legacy he had hoped for. Ryan insulted every citizen, every cop, every judge and jury member in that state. He should be held accountable for his bizarre decision. And the legislature should adopt measures to assure this lunacy cannot be repeated.
George Ryan was wrong. And the liberals who applaud his decision are wrong. The Jesse Jacksons of the world, who stood in a pulpit and commended the end to "legalized lynching," they too are wrong.
There is a legitimate place in society for the death penalty. It should be used only in those circumstances where society demands justice. But Ryan took that option out of the hands of the residents of Illinois. He has most certainly solidified his place in history. But it's a sad place and a sickening place.