RESISTANCE CINEMA Presents “TOO FLAWED TO FIX The Illinois Death Penalty Experience” Peace Productions, Directors Jackie River and John Lyons 2002, 50 minutes
WHEN: Sunday April 5th, 2009 1:15pm
WHERE: Community Church NYC, Gallery Room 28 East 35th st. @ park ave.
ADMISSION: Free, donations appreciated
George H. Ryan first gained national attention in the area of capital punishment when, as governor of the State of Illinois, he declared a moratorium on his state's death penalty in 2000. "We have now freed more people than we have put to death under our system," he said. "There is a flaw in the system, without question, and it needs to be studied."
TOO FLAWED TO FIX explores and exposes the irreparable flaws in the criminal justice system that wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death 13 people in Illinois. This documentary puts before the people, not only of the United States but of the world, the stories of the injustices at the heart of American capital punishment.
At the time, Illinois had executed 12 people since the reinstitution of the death penalty in 1977 but had been forced to release 13 people based on new evidence. Ryan called for a commission to study the issue, while noting, "I still believe the death penalty is a proper response to heinous crimes, but I want to make sure ... that the person who is put to death is absolutely guilty."
The issue had garnered the attention of the public when a death row inmate, Anthony Porter, who had spent 15 years on death row and was within two days of being executed when his lawyers won a stay on the grounds that he may have been mentally retarded. He was ultimately exonerated with the help of a group of student journalists at Northwestern University who had uncovered evidence that was used to prove his innocence. In 1999 Porter was released, charges were subsequently dropped, and another person, Alstory Simon, confessed and pleaded guilty to the crime Porter had been erroneously convicted of.
Ultimately, on January 11, 2003, just days before leaving office, Ryan commuted (to "life" terms) the sentences of everyone on or waiting to be sent to Illinois' death row – a total of 167 convicts – due to his belief that the death penalty could not be administered fairly. He also pardoned four inmates.