The Nobel shortlist is out. (More like medium-length: there are 156 nominees.) I’ll leave Bono and Chirac to everybody else; it’s George Ryan who interests me. No matter what you think of capital punishment, how does a governor who commutes the sentences of 150 convicted murderers to life from execution contribute to world peace?

Aaron Haspel | Posted February 19, 2003 @ 5:44 PM | Politics

4 Responses to “Peace Prize Nominees”

  1. 1 1. ellie

    I wonder if any of those lucky murderers, based on time of conviction, etc., will eventually be eligible for parole? That’d be quite a contribution to peace! Of course, several Nobels seem to have been awarded prematurely (Arafat comes to mind), so maybe some sort of delay is order that would allow worthy accomplishments to ‘ripen.’


  2. 2 2. Michael Krantz

    I dunno — maybe by dramatically advancing the debate over capital punishment in a nation that, while presenting itself to the world (usually correctly) as a global avatar of justice and human rights, also routinely sentences innocent people to death and, even more often, violates its own Constitution by putting people who lack any meaningful legal representation on Death Row?

    Let’s leave aside the question of whether the death penalty itself is immoral or unconstitutional; as practiced in the U.S. today it is a grotesque caricature of justice. Governor Ryan, otherwise an unremarkable and, it may turn out, criminal politician, earned himself a small but relevant place in our history by forcibly pushing the capital punishment debate onto the zeitgeist’s front burner. And Aaron, before you go claiming again that what Ryan did was itself unlawful, I think you need to defend capital punishment itself. If the death penalty, as practiced today, is immoral and illegal, then what Ryan did can only be characterized as highly moral, and a step forward for the American criminal justice system.


  3. 3 3. Aaron Haspel

    Remind me again what all of this has to do with world peace. Is executing murderers warmongering now? Or what?


  4. 4 4. Joshua Leisner

    Commuting death sentences in such an extreme one-time act (and the sheer number) is interesting, but I don’t know if it’s Nobel worthy.

    I’m from Illinois and I know Ryan’s career well. The fact that he waited until the 11th hour speaks volumes in terms of where he’s ‘coming from’. If he had commuted all death sentences on his FIRST day as governor and fought it tooth and nail, then MAYBE he’d make the list.

    For those who are posting- I could care less about the death penalty. Ther are those who are deserving to die and ther are those who are deserving to rot, but a bigger issue (I think) is the overcrowding and mandatory sentences for minor offenders.


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