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Republican National Convention: Illinois Governor George Ryan Discusses Death PenaltyAired August 3, 2000 - 1:06 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Supporters and detractors alike have talked about George W. Bush in terms of his view of capital punishment. That's because Texas leads the nation in executions, and Bush says, to his knowledge, all those put to death have been guilty and had fair trials. But at least one Republican governor has had second thoughts about capital punishment in his state and declared a moratorium.
George Ryan, governor of Illinois, joins me now to talk about that and about his take on the GOP convention thus far.
GOV. GEORGE RYAN (R), ILLINOIS: Hi, Natalie. How are you today?
ALLEN: Governor, I'm fine, thank you.
Let's talk about this issue that many are wondering, first of all, whether the death penalty will or should be a major issue in this campaign.
RYAN: Well, I don't know whether it will be or not, and I'm not sure that it should. Those are decisions that have to be made by each governor individually within their states. Our system was broken and needed to be repaired and that's why I called a moratorium. We almost put to death some innocent people. We had 25 people on death row; 13 of them were found to be innocent because of the result of some young journalist students at Northwestern University. They came up with some facts that startled me, and we called a halt to the executions. And each governor has to make that decision. That's probably one of the toughest jobs of being governor.
ALLEN: Why do you think that more have not made a decision to stop like you have? Is it not considered a politically prudent move?
RYAN: Well, I wouldn't say that. No, I don't think there's any politics. This isn't a Republican or a Democrat issue. This is an issue that each governor in their states have to be comfortable with. George Bush is very comfortable with his system. He feels that those people that have been executed have had all access to the courts and have had fair trials and were proven guilty, and he's comfortable with that. We didn't have that in our case. Our system was broken and we needed to fix it, and we stopped it.
ALLEN: Do you think he should be comfortable with that in light of reporting that poor inmates in the state of Texas do not get fair and adequate representation?
RYAN: Well, I think that's a case, again, where each state has to be comfortable with their system. Now, I would guess there's more review to the Bush -- to the Texas system like there is in Illinois other than just the trial itself. These people are on death row for many years before they're executed.
ALLEN: What will it take for you to reinstate the death penalty?
RYAN: We had our first hearing yesterday on the moratorium. The committee met yesterday and had public hearings, and we're going to wait and see what the report is. But we just have to make sure, without any question, that those people that are sent to death row are guilty, and that's going to be my goal.
ALLEN: Final question: Let's talk about this convention in general. The overall theme has been make nice. Someone's called it "Love Fest 2000."
ALLEN: What do you think of that?
RYAN: I think it's good. You know, the whole convention has been built to a crescendo. Last night, we were just a couple of decibels below where we'll be tonight. And I think tonight's going to be the crowning glory for all the Republicans that have spent their time here at this convention. We're going to send George Bush and Dick Cheney back out into the land to sell their program, and I think it's wonderful.
ALLEN: Governor Ryan from Illinois. George Ryan, thank you for being with us.
RYAN: Thank you.
ALLEN: Thank a lot.
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