CHICAGO – Prosecutors have returned to court seeking to void 14 more death-row clemencies granted by former Gov. George Ryan because the inmates had not asked to have their sentences commuted.
The Cook County state's attorney filed a petition Thursday with the Illinois Supreme Court challenging the commutations of 13 inmates. On Friday, the Will County state's attorney filed a similar complaint about clemency granted to another inmate.
The Cook County prosecutor had already asked the court to void 10 clemencies, arguing Ryan overstepped his authority. Those inmates' sentences had been vacated in state or federal court and they were awaiting re-sentencing.
Last Saturday, two days before the end of his term, Ryan pardoned four men on death row and granted clemency to the 167 inmates who were left.
The University of Chicago's MacArthur Justice Center sought clemencies for 11 of the 13 inmates named in Thursday's petition. The men had opposed the move, thinking a commutation of their sentences would reduce their chances of being exonerated, said Locke E. Bowman, the center's executive director
A key issue raised in Thursday's petition, Bowman said, is whether the governor's power to commute a sentence is greater than a defendant's right to choose his own punishment.
"Otherwise, you put the governor's clemency power in the hands of the prisoner," he said.