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News story on Sunday, January 12, 2003; CHICAGO, Jan. 11 -- Illinois’s outgoing Republican Gov. George Ryan commuted the death sentences of 167 people to life in prison today after concluding that the capital punishment system was "haunted by the demon of error."

Friends and foes of the death penalty said the step, which empties death row of 156 inmates and 11 others who had been sentenced but were awaiting hearings, was unprecedented. The action will have ramifications for the intensifying national debate on the issue and came a day after Ryan pardoned four death row inmates who he said had been tortured into false murder confessions. Three were released immediately and are already home with their families.

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