Thursday, January 27, 2011

Illinois Legislature Sends Bill Outlawing Death Penalty To Gov. Quinn

While there are many valid arguments against the death penalty, the most compelling is the inevitability–not just possibility–of executing the innocent. Our legal system is not fool-proof; there are wrongful convictions. Once a conviction results in the execution of an innocent individual, there is no reversal. Based on this ultimate injustice, the Illinois State Legislature has banned the death penalty; the case for Governor Pat Quinn (left) to sign the bill (click here to sign a petition) was made in a New York Times editorial:

Eleven years after gross injustice compelled a moratorium on capital punishment in Illinois, the State Legislature has concluded that the only way to guard against execution of the innocent is to outlaw the death penalty. Gov. Pat Quinn, who has sent mixed signals in the past, should quickly sign the legislation into law.

Former Gov. George Ryan declared the moratorium in 2000 in the face of a running scandal of faulty trials that cost innocent inmates their lives...

Under prodding from outside investigators, the state has had to free 20 inmates from death row since 1987...

Fifteen inmates are now on death row under the open-ended moratorium as prosecutors continue to pursue capital punishment. Most recently, two condemned men convicted on the basis of confessions were exonerated by DNA evidence.

Governor Quinn said last fall that he supported the moratorium as well as capital punishment “applied carefully and fairly.” Illinois’s own experience has shown why that is not possible. Most modern nations, and 15 states in this country, have rightly abandoned the barbarism of state executions. The sanctity of human life and the honor of the state require Governor Quinn to lead Illinois beyond its wrenching history of wrongful death-row convictions.

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