By CCN • July 15, 2018
By: Brian J. Vickers

Brian Vickers, CCNM Photojournalist

Recently IDOC (Illinois Department of Corrections) inmate Leonard Kidd sat down to talk with Photojournalist Brian Vickers of CCNEWS Media. Kidd has been incarcerated for a total of 34 years; the first 20 years of Kidd’s incarceration, he sat on death row awaiting execution.
On January 11, 2003, then-outgoing-governor George Ryan commuted the death sentence of Leonard Kidd, and the remaining 166 inmates on death row, to terms of ‘life without parole.’ Ryan’s decision to grant blanket commutation to death row inmates was because he believed the death penalty in Illinois was broken, and needed a complete overhaul before it could be used again.

IDOC (Illinois Department of Corrections) inmate Leonard Kidd

More than 15 years later, Kidd has expressed his gratitude to ex-governor Ryan for take him off death row; because if it were not for the “brave actions” of Ryan, Kidd would in all likelihood would have been put to death, by way of lethal injection. But instead, Kidd has been given another chance at life, and another chance to prove his innocence.  One day Kidd would like to be able to meet George Ryan in person, to say thanks to the former-governor for not only giving him a second chance, but also granting a pardon Madison Hobley, Aaron Patterson, Stanley Howard, and Leroy Orange, who are members to all of the members of the ‘Death Row 10.’ Leroy Orange is Leonard Kidd’s half-brother. In 1984 both Orange and Kidd were tortured into making incriminating statements by disgraced Police Commander-Jon Burge.

Although Kidd remains behind bars, he is still continuing to fight to win back his freedom. And he believes that one day justice will prevail and he will be set free. But no matter what happens, Kidd will always have a great deal of appreciation for the actions of George Ryan for giving he, because if it were not for Ryan’s courage to do the right thing, despite all of the criticism, both Kidd and Orange would have been wrongfully executed.

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