Illinois Ends Death Penalty

March 9th, 2011 at 2:31 pm | 16 Comments |

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The Chicago Tribune reports:

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn today signed into law a historic ban on the death penalty in Illinois and commuted the sentences of 15 death row inmates to life without parole.

The governor said he followed his conscience. He said he believed in signing the bill he also should “abolish the death penalty for everyone,” including those already on death row.

“Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history,” Quinn told reporters afterward. “I think it’s the right, just thing to abolish the death penalty.”

Quinn signed the legislation during a private ceremony in his Capitol office surrounded by longtime opponents of capital punishment in a state where flaws in the process led to the exoneration of numerous people sentenced to death.

“For me, this was a difficult decision, quite literally the choice between life and death,” Quinn wrote in his signing statement. “This was not a decision to be made lightly, or a decision that I came to without deep personal reflection.”

“Since our experience has shown that there is no way to design a perfect death penalty system, free from the numerous flaws that can lead to wrongful convictions or discriminatory treatment, I have concluded that the proper course of action is to abolish it,” Quinn wrote. “With our broken system, we cannot ensure justice is achieved in every case.”

“For the same reason, I have also decided to commute the sentences of those currently on death row to natural life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole or release,” the governor wrote.

A small group of lawmakers also was on hand, including lead sponsors Rep. Karen Yarbrough, D-Maywood, and Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago. Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago also attended. Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, who lobbied Quinn to sign the ban, was there.

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16 Comments so far ↓

  • Smargalicious

    Bad move.

    But what could you expect from the most corrupt state of all?

    Society has always used punishment to discourage would-be criminals from unlawful action.
    Since society has the highest interest in preventing murder, it should use the strongest punishment available to deter murder, and that is the death penalty. If murderers are sentenced to death and executed, potential murderers will think twice before killing for fear of losing their own life.

    • KBKY

      I think that the problem was not the death penalty itself, but the fact that people who had been sentenced to death were then proven innocent. Because the state hadn’t been able to find a way to ensure, 100%, that those sentenced to death were truly guilty, the Governor deemed that it was better to err on the side of not mistakenly killing the innocent. My beliefs are similar. Although I have no problem with the death penalty itself, and certainly support it for some crimes, if we can’t be 100% sure that those we are punishing are truly guilty, we have a very big problem. Better to err on the side of caution. To adopt the old adage: I’d rather 100 guilty men rot for life in prison than have 1 innocent man be put to death for a crime he didn’t commit.

  • Crime Dog

    Exactly right Smarg. Which is why states with the death penalty have the lowest murder rates in the country.

  • hisgirlfriday

    Good for Quinn. Good for Illinois.

    The death penalty isn’t a good deterrent for murder because murderers don’t think or care that they will get caught for their murderous actions when it comes to that.

    I also don’t understand how many people who are so distrustful and disdainful of government generally are simultaneously completely trusting of the government when it comes to giving it the power to kill people.

    • Nanotek

      HGF@”I also don’t understand how many people who are so distrustful and disdainful of government generally are simultaneously completely trusting of the government when it comes to giving it the power to kill people.”

      ditto

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “I also don’t understand how many people who are so distrustful and disdainful of government generally are simultaneously completely trusting of the government when it comes to giving it the power to kill people.”

    Being ignorant and having a world-view entirely based on double standards helps a lot.

  • Watusie

    Show me someone who is in favor of the death penalty and I’ll show you someone who is in favor of big government and cares nothing for fiscal responsibility.

    Maryland has spent $186 million on capital cases over the past 30 years—which comes to $37 million per execution. The typical Texas death case carries a price tag of $2.3 million. A 2005 study pointed out that “New Jersey taxpayers over the last 23 years have paid more than a quarter billion dollars on a capital punishment system that has executed no one.” In the past seven year Illinois has spent $100 million on capital cases.

  • ProfNickD

    So they just plan to give Blagojevich life in prison?

    • TerryF98

      I would reserve the death penalty for torturers and traitors. So Bush and Cheney look out on both counts.

  • busboy33

    Good.

    The only justification for the Death Penalty is a desire for vengence . . . and that does not have a place in a judicial system.

  • ScoopAway

    Many who are ‘pro life’ at all costs in the fetus stage flip flop so easily into ‘kill them’ mode when the human becomes an adult. Unprovoked wars, ‘collateral damage’, capital punishment – these deaths are acceptable.

    Unless of course a person is terminally ill, in pain, and wants to end his own life – then we are back to life being sacred again.

  • Rabiner

    Smarg:

    “Society has always used punishment to discourage would-be criminals from unlawful action.
    Since society has the highest interest in preventing murder, it should use the strongest punishment available to deter murder, and that is the death penalty. If murderers are sentenced to death and executed, potential murderers will think twice before killing for fear of losing their own life.”

    Sadly facts don’t back up what you say here or most of the time.

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