Deadline


1h 30m 2004

Brief Synopsis

Governor Ryan of Illinois must choose between maintaining the status quo and offering blanket clemency to everyone on death row, an unprecedented and risky move for a Republican governor. Includes candid jailhouse interviews, expert analysis, dramatic clemency hearings, and a countdown to Ryan's ult

Film Details

Also Known As
Dateline NBC, Life After Death Row
Release Date
2004

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m

Synopsis

Governor Ryan of Illinois must choose between maintaining the status quo and offering blanket clemency to everyone on death row, an unprecedented and risky move for a Republican governor. Includes candid jailhouse interviews, expert analysis, dramatic clemency hearings, and a countdown to Ryan's ultimate decision.

Crew

Edward L. Allen

Post-Production Assistant

Anthony Amsterdam

Advisor

Sandi Bangasser

Post-Production Assistant

Karen Barrett

Producer

Asena Basak

Post-Production Assistant

Asena Basak

Researcher

Danielle Beeber

Editorial Assistant

Allison Berg

Rights & Clearances

Maggie Bowman

Post-Production Assistant

Maggie Bowman

Interpreter

Dallas Brennan

Producer

Stephen Bright

Advisor

Eliza Byard

Other

Chris Cameron

Editorial Assistant

Todd Chandler

Editorial Assistant

Bell Gale Chevigny

Advisor

Katy Chevigny

Sound

Katy Chevigny

Producer

Jeff Coe

Other

Jeff Coe

Writer

David Cole

Advisor

Elizabeth Cole

Producer

Ann Collins

Production Consultant

David Corvo

Executive Producer

Martin Czembor

Sound Mixer

Beth Davenport

Producer

Courtney Joy Destaefano

Assistant Editor

Robert K Difazio

Executive Producer

Carol Dysinger

Editor

Steve Earle

Song

David Elliot

Advisor

David Emanuele

Editorial Assistant

Mark Falstad

Director Of Photography

Mark Falstad

Other

Alva French

Post-Production Coordinator

Nancy Gallagher

Accountant

Peter Gilbert

Executive Producer

Nicole Gilliam

Editorial Assistant

Mariusz Glabinski

Sound Editor

Shira Golding

Editor

Cornelia Grumman

Other

Marlena Grzaslewicz

Sound Editor

Lixian Hanover

Post-Production Assistant

Shayla Harris

Associate Producer

Barrett Hawes

Editorial Assistant

Reina Higashitani

Post-Production Assistant

Kate Hirson

Editor

Fannie Huang

Post-Production Assistant

Wayne Hyde

On-Line Editor

Kirsten Johnson

Director Of Photography

Kirsten Johnson

Other

Elaine Jones

Other

Zak Kaufman

Post-Production Assistant

George Kendall

Advisor

Alison King

Editor

Antoinette King

Other

Lauren Korn

Producer

Dana Kupper

Camera

Katherine Leggett

Assistant Editor

Sarah Lewis

Researcher

Dan Marocco

Original Music

Mark Mauer

Advisor

Alison Mcdonald

Post-Production Assistant

Mike Mcintyre

Research And Content Consultant

John T Miller

Graphics

John T Miller

Visual Effects

Steve Mills

Other

Mary Myers

Production Consultant

Mary Myers

Editor

Peter Nashel

Original Music

Charles Olivier

Associate Editor

Alex Orban

Post-Production Assistant

Rupa Parekh

Other

Kathryn Naomi Parker

Post-Production Assistant

Julia Pimsleur

Production Consultant

Maurice Possley

Other

Robin Reid

Other

Chuck Roback

Technical Advisor

Carlos Rodriguez

Colorist

Domenic Rom

Producer

Stacey Romano

Post-Production Assistant

Ann Rose

Post-Production Supervisor

Jessica Rothenberg

Post-Production Assistant

Bonnie Rowan

Researcher

Diann Rust-tierney

Advisor

George H Ryan

Other

Sarah Sandring

Post-Production Assistant

Austin Sarat

Advisor

Jeff Seymann

Associate Editor

Ira Spiegel

Sound Editor

Russell Stetler

Advisor

Scott Stowell

Main Title Design

Sara Taher

Post-Production Assistant

Bobbie Thomas

Colorist

Angela Tucker

Associate Producer

Angela Tucker

Sound Recordist

Angela Tucker

Other

Scott Turow

Other

Jeffrey Van Hove

Other

Landon Van Soest

Post-Production Assistant

Carmen Vicencio

Post-Production Assistant

Bud Welch

Advisor

Elizabeth Westrate

Post-Production Supervisor

Li-shin Yu

Other

Joe Zito

On-Line Editor

Film Details

Also Known As
Dateline NBC, Life After Death Row
Release Date
2004

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m

Articles

Deadline on DVD


This notable Sundance festival documentary examines the rationale behind a controversial move by George Ryan, the governor of Illinois in 2002: He cleared his state's death row by commuting the death sentences of 167 prisoners to life imprisonment.

This unprecedented act of governance just before he was scheduled to leave office was reported in most of the nation's media as an outrage, another example of liberalism gone wild. According to the coverage I saw, bad leadership had once again ignored the rights of crime victims and thwarted justice.

Deadline tells the story of the decision through interviews with journalists and activists, courtroom videos of months of hearings. The issue is a lot more complicated than it looks. A college journalism class had reinvestigated some capital cases and discovered that several convicted murderers were completely innocent, the victims of perjured testimony, extorted confessions and bloodthirsty juries. Governor Ryan reopened the case of every prisoner awaiting execution, and anti-death penalty activists went into action.

The docu brings a fair mind to a complicated and emotionally loaded issue. The Governor was appalled by a broken justice system that routinely railroaded poor minority defendants, especially in high-profile crimes. We get testimony to the effect that some of these death row criminals received almost no legal defense at all. One particularly compelling case shows a Mexican defendant from whom a confession was extracted after forty hours of interrogation that could easily be classified as torture. A non- English speaker, he eventually signed a confession he could not read. The only translator present was the interviewing officer.

Deadline gives the flipside of the issue its due. Journalists characterize Governor Ryan a small town pharmacist overwhelmed by his political responsibilities. Others calmly judge him to be naive. Victims' rights activists express the pain to long-suffering family members at the proposal that guilty parties be taken off death row. We're shown interviews with several convicts, some spared by the first 1972 ban on the death penalty, and others by Ryan's action. They can't be said to be a particularly convincing bunch; one who was involved in the shooting of a policeman blames heroin and tries to make it sound as if his work for the Black Panthers somehow exonerates him.

Altogether 13 death row inmates were proven to be innocent, a shocking fact indicating the need for drastic reform. The point of Ryan's mass commutation is not that most of the convicted aren't guilty but that ritual killings to gratify an emotional need are simply wrong. A warden tells us most of his peers are against the executions, and we see testimony from a group of victims' relatives who also believe in the abolition of the death penalty.

The death penalty is examined for what it is, society's revenge against heinous criminals. Ever since Richard Nixon made the War on Crime a major political issue it has become impossible for any political candidate to be elected without a strong anti-crime, pro-death penalty stance. Several states have become veritable execution factories, with George W. Bush's Texas leading the list. With the evidence of scores of proven wrongful convictions, Governor Ryan's action can be seen as a first step towards some semblance of a civilized method of applying justice to capital cases.

Deadline is a no-frills presentation of the facts that gives its issue balance and avoids overly emotional material from either side. Although clearly against the death penalty in general, it makes a persuasive case that American 'eye for an eye' attitudes are inbred, along with pervasive racism. Within our enlightened times is a clear streak of barbarity.

Home Vision Entertainment's DVD of Deadline presents the good-looking docu in an enhanced transfer; Kirsten Johnson's camerawork is of exceptional quality throughout. The 90-minute show is accompanied by various outtakes, an unedited tape of Governor Ryan's announcement speech, an interview with the Governor, a Death Penalty Timeline and some filmmaker bio text pieces. Director Katy Chevigny and Kirsten Johnson tell the story of the making of the docu in a separate interview.

For more information about Deathline, visit Home Vision Entertainment. To order Deadline, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson
Deadline On Dvd

Deadline on DVD

This notable Sundance festival documentary examines the rationale behind a controversial move by George Ryan, the governor of Illinois in 2002: He cleared his state's death row by commuting the death sentences of 167 prisoners to life imprisonment. This unprecedented act of governance just before he was scheduled to leave office was reported in most of the nation's media as an outrage, another example of liberalism gone wild. According to the coverage I saw, bad leadership had once again ignored the rights of crime victims and thwarted justice. Deadline tells the story of the decision through interviews with journalists and activists, courtroom videos of months of hearings. The issue is a lot more complicated than it looks. A college journalism class had reinvestigated some capital cases and discovered that several convicted murderers were completely innocent, the victims of perjured testimony, extorted confessions and bloodthirsty juries. Governor Ryan reopened the case of every prisoner awaiting execution, and anti-death penalty activists went into action. The docu brings a fair mind to a complicated and emotionally loaded issue. The Governor was appalled by a broken justice system that routinely railroaded poor minority defendants, especially in high-profile crimes. We get testimony to the effect that some of these death row criminals received almost no legal defense at all. One particularly compelling case shows a Mexican defendant from whom a confession was extracted after forty hours of interrogation that could easily be classified as torture. A non- English speaker, he eventually signed a confession he could not read. The only translator present was the interviewing officer. Deadline gives the flipside of the issue its due. Journalists characterize Governor Ryan a small town pharmacist overwhelmed by his political responsibilities. Others calmly judge him to be naive. Victims' rights activists express the pain to long-suffering family members at the proposal that guilty parties be taken off death row. We're shown interviews with several convicts, some spared by the first 1972 ban on the death penalty, and others by Ryan's action. They can't be said to be a particularly convincing bunch; one who was involved in the shooting of a policeman blames heroin and tries to make it sound as if his work for the Black Panthers somehow exonerates him. Altogether 13 death row inmates were proven to be innocent, a shocking fact indicating the need for drastic reform. The point of Ryan's mass commutation is not that most of the convicted aren't guilty but that ritual killings to gratify an emotional need are simply wrong. A warden tells us most of his peers are against the executions, and we see testimony from a group of victims' relatives who also believe in the abolition of the death penalty. The death penalty is examined for what it is, society's revenge against heinous criminals. Ever since Richard Nixon made the War on Crime a major political issue it has become impossible for any political candidate to be elected without a strong anti-crime, pro-death penalty stance. Several states have become veritable execution factories, with George W. Bush's Texas leading the list. With the evidence of scores of proven wrongful convictions, Governor Ryan's action can be seen as a first step towards some semblance of a civilized method of applying justice to capital cases. Deadline is a no-frills presentation of the facts that gives its issue balance and avoids overly emotional material from either side. Although clearly against the death penalty in general, it makes a persuasive case that American 'eye for an eye' attitudes are inbred, along with pervasive racism. Within our enlightened times is a clear streak of barbarity. Home Vision Entertainment's DVD of Deadline presents the good-looking docu in an enhanced transfer; Kirsten Johnson's camerawork is of exceptional quality throughout. The 90-minute show is accompanied by various outtakes, an unedited tape of Governor Ryan's announcement speech, an interview with the Governor, a Death Penalty Timeline and some filmmaker bio text pieces. Director Katy Chevigny and Kirsten Johnson tell the story of the making of the docu in a separate interview. For more information about Deathline, visit Home Vision Entertainment. To order Deadline, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Aired in United States 2004

Aired in United States Fall October 1, 2004

Aired in United States July 30, 2004

Aired in United States October 5, 2004

Aired in USA on NBC network, August 30, 2004, as a Dateline NBC special presentation.

The filmmakers cut approximately ten minutes from the original run time to allow for commercials for its NBC Dateline premiere.

As part of the Dateline NBC acquisition, NBC has exclusive North American broadcast rights for one year, including cable outlets MSNBC, Bravo, and/or other NBC owned networks.