On the eve of his departure from office, George Ryan—longtime conservative Republican, supporter of the death penalty, and governor of Illinois—surprised the nation by commuting the sentences of all 167 prisoners on Death Row. Directors Katy Chevigny and Kirsten Johnson bring us directly into the debate and the legal process that is set into motion when a group of Northwestern University journalism students uncover evidence of numerous innocent people of Illinois’ Death Row, undermining the credibility of the state’s entire capital justice system. In the wake of this evidence, Ryan orders special clemency hearings for every prisoner awaiting execution. Within these courtrooms is human drama in its most distilled form. Using astounding access to the hearings, prisoners on Death Row, and Governor Ryan, Deadline delivers a measured sense of justice for all their subjects and astutely contextualizes the debate with historical material. From the well-reasoned legal debates to the heart-wrenching testimony of family members of the victims as well as the condemned, Deadline contributes reason and passion to the ongoing debate about whether nations should employ the ultimate punishment and how justly it is administered.