University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations


January 21, 2005
Contact: Jennifer Ekman at (251) 460-6360

Leading Death Penalty Opponent and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee To Speak at USA Feb. 15 at 7 p.m.

Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, who gained worldwide acclaim for his decision to declare a moratorium on capital punishment in that state, will deliver a free, public lecture at 7 p.m. on Feb. 15 at the University of South Alabama's Laidlaw Performing Arts Center.

In his lecture, "From Death to Life," Ryan will explore his journey from a supporter of the death penalty to a leading advocate for a universal moratorium. In 2000, the Republican governor declared a moratorium on executions in Illinois. Days before leaving office in 2003, he commuted the sentences of 167 inmates who had been sentenced to death in Illinois.
Govenor George Ryan
Governor George Ryan

At that time, Ryan said, "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." He said he would "sleep well knowing I made the right decision."

Educated as a pharmacist, Ryan served in the U.S. Army in the mid-1950s before moving into local politics. He was elected as a state representative, lieutenant governor and secretary of state before his gubernatorial term from 1999 to 2003.

The Annual Public Lecture Series is sponsored by USA's department of political science and criminal justice.

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