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There could be some legal wrangling left on a handful of the 164 death sentences commuted by former Gov. George Ryan. After the announcement Saturday, Cook County State's Atty. Richard Devine promised to pursue any legal avenue to challenge the commutation of the death sentences to life in prison without parole.

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"Gov. Ryan said that the system is broken, but it's just ignorant to say that in the Andrew Urdiales case," McKay said.

Well, sure. Probably most of the people on Death Row are guilty, evil bastards. But is "most" really a good enough standard when we're talking about executions, the punishment that can't be undone? Illinois has executed 12 people on Death Row and exonerated 17 -- i.e., for every two people the state has killed in pursuit of justice, three more were nearly killed for crimes they didn't commit. Cherry-picking individual cases might convince some people that there's nothing wrong. But a system that puts innocent people in line to receive the ultimate punishment on a shockingly regular basis is fucked up beyond repair.

And that's just going by the cold, hard numbers! That's not even taking into account the racial biases, economic disproportion, crappy DAs, or the fact that people who confess to murders -- people who admit they are guilty as sin -- are more likely to get lighter sentences than people who try to prove their innocence and fail. Anyone who can explain to me how that is not a broken system gets a cookie.

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