Using Illinois’s 2000–’02 clemency hearings and Governor George Ryan’s waffling as entry points, Deadline delivers a routine but effective case against capital punishment, chronicling the various racial and class disparities, law enforcement abuses, and wrongful convictions that dog the system. The material is too sprawling for a 90-minute doc, and some of the most provocative issues—for example, the notion that a greater number of legislators would challenge the death penalty if they weren’t afraid of appearing weak on crime—receive only cursory attention. Still, what Deadline lacks in heft it makes up for in common sense. It will be refreshing if death penalty proponents actually go.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 21, 2004