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Question of the day

Thursday, Sep 28, 2006

We’ll use Stu Umholtz’s comments in the Peoria paper today to get things going.

Illinois lawmakers need to decide whether the state should resume executions because “we cannot simply allow the status quo to continue,” Stewart Umholtz, the Republican nominee for attorney general, said Wednesday.

Former Gov. George Ryan, a Republican, halted all executions in 2000 because of concerns about a flawed capital punishment system that sometimes put innocent people on death row. Just before leaving office in 2003, he emptied death row of more than 100 inmates and commuted their sentences to life in prison.

Ryan’s moratorium on executions has remained in effect during the tenure of Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Umholtz said that as attorney general, he would advise the governor to lift the moratorium and review each death penalty case individually.

Should the moratorium be lifed? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 9:16 am:

    The legislature enacted 17 of the 86 recommendations of the Death Penalty Task Force. When the other 69 have been adopted, sure.

  2. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 9:19 am:

    Nope! I am PRO-LIFE on this issue too.

  3. - grand old partisan - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 9:21 am:


    The Governor has the right to grant pardons and commutations on a case by case basis. If Ryan really felt strongly enough about both the issue and the rule of law, he would have simply waited until each of the inmates on Death Row came up for execution, and then granted an individual commutation based on some contrived technicality or something.

    The blanket commutation was as unnecessary as it was constitutionally questionable - not to mention a transparent attempt to turn Ryan into a sympathetic figure right before the legal troubles everyone (including he) knew he would be facing soon after.

  4. - The Conservative - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 9:22 am:

    Dust off the equipment, blow out the tubes and get them a pumping.

  5. - grand old partisan - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 9:24 am:

    Sorry for the tag on, but to build off of YDD comment, I agree that the recommendations should be addressed by the legislature. But I’d feel a whole lot better about waiting until they are to reinstate the penalty if the legislature itself passed a vote to temporarily halt it’s use, instead of relying on the unilateral actions of a legacy-shopping Governor.

  6. - Left Leaner - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 9:29 am:

    No. The death penalty does not work as a crime deterrent, is morally indefensible, and is not cost effective. Let murderers rot in jail with the rest of the murderers.

  7. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 9:43 am:

    No, not till all the recommendations of the panel are enacted. Plus, have there been that many sentencings to DP since the blanket commutation? Doesn’t seem like it’s a pressing need at all.

  8. - Cassandra - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 9:57 am:

    Why is this man in politics? Who are his campaign advisors, if any. What a silly issue to bring up, given the multitude of other real problems in state government, like, say, the huge corruption tax we pay under the Dems. Stu doesn’t seem to interested in that.

    As to Lisa, of course she’s dissing him. But he
    is putting himself in a position to be dissed.
    Could the Republican Party be paying him to run a pro forma candidacy? Otherwise, why would he
    put on the fool’s cap?

  9. - Gus Frerotte's Clipboard - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 9:57 am:

    Even if you philosophically believe that there are certain crimes for which the only proper punishment is death — and I do — the moratorium absolutely should not be lifted. The criminal justice system in Illinois is still in need of extensive reform, and it is simply impossible to believe that it can reliably make judgments on an issue of this magnitude. Counting on governors to issue pardons turns death row into a political football (witness George Ryan’s blanket action — correct on the merits, whatever the motivation).

    The posters on this board frequently show a healthy mistrust for the machinery of government. Well, guess who makes dealth penalty decisions? The machinery of government. The pervasive skepticism of posters about the judgment of government would be better suited to this issue than to many of the others it’s applied to on this board.

  10. - Wumpus - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 10:22 am:

    Yes, just make sure these crooked city cops and prosecutors get it right. Howm any people do Daley and Devine have to wrongly put on death row. But we only hear of Cruz by Birkett.

  11. - CrunchyCon - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 10:28 am:

    If you read the entire PJS article, you will note that it is a candidate interview…the reporters are posing the questions.

    Umholtz answers the interviewer’s question about the moratorium and makes his point quite clearly. My understanding is that the governor cannot chose what he wants to do and not do as governor, nor what laws he wants to follow and not follow. If the moratorium is unconstituional, then it should be lifted and the proper branch of government should resolve this issue. Umholtz makes his point quite clearly.

    As for corruption, if the interviewers asked about it, I am sure Umholtz answered their question. Umholtz has made fighting corruption the central message of his campaign, and of the two candidates, he has the resume to prove he has done and will do something about corruption in his jurisdiction.

  12. - Shelbyville - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 10:52 am:

    With the many cases of bad cops, bad attorneys and tainted DNA……. no deaath penalty.

  13. - Bill - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 10:57 am:

    No,not as long as guys like Joe Brikett are States Attorneys.

  14. - One Man Can Make A Difference - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 11:20 am:

    No the moratorium should not be lifted.

    Only GOD can decide the fate of someone’s life, not a human being whom errors, sins and makes mistakes just as the person who committed the crime.

    It is not in mans hand to take a life—It’s called MURDER. One of the ten commandments is “thou shall not kill”!

  15. - Gish - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 11:51 am:

    One Man, it is a little silly of you to quote the Ten Commandments in use against the death penalty when there are a multitude of passages citing the death penalty for various crimes.

    A quick google search brings up the following:

    Leviticus 24:21 And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death. (KJV)

    I guess via that passage then the moratorium should be lifted at least in the minds of the faithful.

  16. - doubtful - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 1:03 pm:

    Can you ensure an innocent person will never be put to death? A single innocent killed in the misguided name of jusitice is too many.

    We should always allow ourselves the chance to correct a mistake.

  17. - Bridget Dooley - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 1:58 pm:

    It should absolutely NOT be lifted. The U.S. is among a list of the least free nations in the world in allowing the death penalty. Even Mexico has done away with it. It’s an embarassment that we haven’t.

  18. - zatoichi - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 2:21 pm:

    Careful with the Bible rationale. In the Old Testament of the Bible, stoning is specifically prescribed as the method of execution for crimes such as murder, blasphemy and apostasy, and some cases of adultery. However, the Talmud seriously limits the use of the death penalty to those criminals who were warned not to commit the crime in the presence of two witnesses, and persisted in committing the crime also in front of two witnesses.

    If the state is really serious, do DNA testing for everyone on deathrow where DNA case evidence exists.

  19. - zinged again - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 4:40 pm:

    We need a serious deterent to crime. If we cannot secure a reasonable manner in which to deter crime, a serious death penalty - both reasonable (with DNA evidence only) and quick (no 13-years on appeal) can be effective.

  20. - Rex - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 7:09 pm:

    Lift the moratorium. Each case will be reviewed individually. If someone killed my child, and there was enough evidence, without a reason of doubt, to make an arrest…..I would want that individual to die. Let me push the button. An eye for an eye.

  21. - Lovie's Leather - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 8:52 pm:

    Either use the death penalty or get rid of it. There are still death penalty cases in this state and there is no dealth penalty!!! What a joke!!! And if we are going to end the death penalty, let’s have one last hoorah!!!…


  22. - NumbersGuy - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 9:36 pm:

    I agree with YDD. Fix the entire system before we bring this particular piece of it back.

    The only thing worse than losing a loved one to violent crime would be losing one to an incompetent, flawed system of government. And let’s face it, we gather here every day to blog about the incompetent, flawed system of government.

  23. - Political Insider - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 9:47 pm:

    The death penalty is for revenge only. There is no deterent and no cost savings. I would hope that we as a people have moved beyond this.

    If you are going to quote Leviticus please remember that Jesus stepped up and stopped a crowd from stoning an adulteress. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

    Our court system is flawed at best. If you commit murder, are tried and convicted your chances of ending up on death row are determined by the color of your skin, and the amount of money you have to pay your legal team.

  24. - Lovie's Leather - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 10:51 pm:

    Yeah, so what? Jesus didn’t think that adultery should be punished with death, your point? You are right though, I mean it is all about the amount of money you have, the color of your skin, and your legal team… tell it to Scott Peterson….

  25. - Carl Nyberg - Thursday, Sep 28, 06 @ 11:22 pm:

    We should expand the death penalty to include more white collar crime.

    If you break the law and cut corners and someone dies of your negligence, you get the death penalty.

  26. - Angie - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 4:13 am:

    I think Ryan was influenced by the work of the Northwestern Law students who investigated Death Row cases and found that some were exonerated, so the system was flawed.

    The Death Penalty should be used only in very extreme cases where there’s ample evidence, as in a crowd of witnesses literally stood by and watched the person go berserk and shoot up a school, or something just awful, but Northwestern students do excellent work, so perhaps Ryan was trying to appear good to cover up the fact that the was a complete crook. I mean, what better way to cast doubt when the allegations arrive, right?

    There certaily is a debate to be had about the issue, but if Ryan was trying to hide his scandals behind the good cloak of a bunch of well-meaning, brilliant Northwestern Law students, he sure blew it when his cover was finally blown.

  27. - Just to add... - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 4:29 am:

    For an excellent look at the issue, Google around and find the work of the Northwestern Medill students whose work helped overturn convictions, as well as the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern Law.

    One of the best universities in all of Illinois, along with University of Chicago. A shame that Ryan was so corrupt while he basked in the glow of the media attention he got over this issue. The students did all the good work, and here was Ryan with the whole license-for-bribes scandal going on. What a disgrace.

  28. - anon - Friday, Sep 29, 06 @ 7:45 am:

    It’s a viable issue. The first person sentenced to death row after Ryan cleared it could run out of appeals in the next four years, meaning the AG and Gov might have to actually make a decision on this.
    Would you prefer to know now or wait until the week of the “execution” to know where they stand?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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