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Styx Guitarist Sides With Ex-Illinois Governor On Death Penalty

Many people are still upset that former Illinois Governor George Ryan commuted the sentences of everyone on the state's Death Row just before leaving office. Ryan made the move after imposing a lengthy moratorium on giving the death penalty, but his unilateral action on the matter has angered pro-death-penalty activists in his own state and across the country.


Chicago-area native James "J.Y." Young isn't one of those people, however. The Styx guitarist says that while nature exacts the death penalty every day, the former governor made his case very forcefully and effectively: ["When he cited the statistic that in places where the death penalty was rescinded that murder rates did not go up, you know, then the question is, 'Well, what sort of deterrent effect does this really have?' Money can buy justice. I mean, we have a song 'Half-Penny, Two Penny' (from 1981's Paradise Theater)--'Justice for money, what can you say?/We all know it's the American way,' a lyric I wrote some 20 years ago--I do see that the less intelligent, the poor, the uninformed are at a terrible disadvantage, you know, in a court system which is supposed to be fair. I think it was a bold and statesman-like move that he made, and I know there are some families that are upset about it, but, you know, ultimately I think it's not a bad thing."] SOUNDCUE (:33 OC: . . . a bad thing.)

That doesn't mean Young will head up any Ryan election committees anytime soon. The guitarist also says that Ryan, when he was governor, bore a significant responsibility in the deaths and injuries of many people that were caused by improperly licensed drivers in Illinois. Young feels that Ryan, as the chief executive, should be held liable for the actions of those below him in the state government, much like former President Richard Nixon was during his time in office.

Styx releases its new studio album, Cyclorama, on February 18. The first single, "Waiting For Our Time," came out Monday (January 20) and is also available as a free download at the band's website (Styxworld.com). The group kicks off a tour with Kansas and John Waite on Wednesday (January 22) in Pensacola, Florida.

-- Bruce Simon, New York

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