Of all people, Scott Turow (a lawyer before he was an author) wrote an op-ed piece that provides the best explanation of the political and legal realities which led to George Ryan’s commutation of the death sentences of all 167 Illinois prisoners scheduled to die. Turow served on Ryan’s commission looking to reform the capital punishment laws of Illinois; as such, I suspect that he’s in a position to comment on the specifics of the state’s death penalty and how it’s applied.