Jean Templeton

Recent Articles

Shutting Down Death Row

Change in the criminal-justice system is a rare thing. Change in death-penalty policy is even more rare. Yet Illinois undertook a comprehensive reassessment of its death-penalty system recently, passing reforms that will have far-reaching impacts on how murder trials are handled in the state -- and that could serve as a model for reform in the rest of the country. Following the review, 11 men were released from death row, and the furor over the death penalty only escalated after the 1999 release of death-row inmate Anthony Porter. Porter had been convicted of a double murder, believed to be a holdup gone bad, in a Chicago park in 1982. A mere 50 hours before Porter's execution, his lawyers made a last-ditch attempt to save him by asserting new questions about his mental competence. His execution was stayed, and in the intervening months, journalism students working in cooperation with a private detective located another man who confessed to the murder. Porter was released. The case,...