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Former Governor Ryan will give lecture

Katie Laird | Monday, February 28, 2005

George Ryan, former Illinois governor, will speak tonight at the DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts at 7 p.m. about his decision to commute the sentences of all inmates of the state on death row. Once an advocate for capital punishment, Ryan changed his position on the issue after being convinced that the justice system is broken and therefore should not be able to take a human life. In January 2000, Ryan instituted the nation’s first moratorium on state executions. He then commuted the sentences of all 167 Illinois death row inmates just before leaving office in 2003. Many students are anticipating the former governor’s visit to campus. Junior Christy Hanofee believes that Ryan’s speech is a good opportunity for students and faculty to gain understanding on the issue of the death penalty. “At a Catholic university it’s good to show support for someone who shares our ideals,” Hanofee said. Freshman Alex Hale, a supporter of the death penalty, does not protest Ryan’s lecture. He believes everyone is entitled to their own opinion about the matter. “Everybody’s given their right to decide, and that’s fine that [Ryan] chose that,” Hale said. Ryan’s lecture, called “The Death Penalty: A System of Justice & Reconciliation?,” is part of a series titled “Life in the Balance: Death Penalty Perspectives.” Events continue Tuesday and Wednesday as Bud Welch, president of Murder Victims Families for Human Rights, whose daughter was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing, will speak in the Coleman-Morse lounge at noon Tuesday. A panel discussion entitled “National Debate on the Death Penalty” will take place Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. in the Hesburgh Center Auditorium. Speakers will include Madison Hobley, Dick Dieter and Bill Pelke.