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George Vlahakis
Media Relations

Last modified: Friday, January 10, 2003

Media advisory: Expert on death penalty legislation available for interviews

Editors: National focus has shifted to Illinois, where Gov. George H. Ryan today (Jan. 10) is expected to pardon four of the state's death row inmates and tomorrow announce plans on commuting the death sentences of other death row inmates to life in prison. Ryan has said it is possible he would grant blanket commutations to all of the 160 men and women on the state's death row.

Joseph L. Hoffmann, a professor at the Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington, has played an active role in the debate over the death penalty in Illinois. He was directly involved in the drafting of the "Fundamental Justice Amendment," a package of death penalty reforms soon to be reintroduced for consideration by the Illinois State Legislature.

This amendment would be the first of its kind in the United States. If approved, it is likely to be a benchmark for other states' reforms of death penalty laws nationwide. The amendment would grant to the Illinois Supreme Court the authority to reverse any death sentence, and substitute a life sentence, if the Court finds that the death sentence is "fundamentally unjust" in terms of the facts and circumstances of the case.

Hoffmann is available to speak with reporters about Gov. Ryan's decisions and how they might affect debate over the amendment and its possible adoption. He can be reached at 812-339-4398 (home), 812-345-1520 (cell) or