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Leader Durkin’s latest reason for supporting the death penalty

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

* Background is here. From WCIA’s Mark Maxwell

Governor Bruce Rauner’s surprise proposal to revive a debate over the death penalty for cop killers and mass murderers in Illinois drew mixed reactions from the state legislature on Tuesday. […]

Rauner initially said that his death penalty proposal would “dramatically increase public safety.” But pressed on whether or not the policy would actually deter mass shootings, he only said it would be “serving justice.”

“I’ve never said that it’s a deterrent, but I believe that is the appropriate penalty in the worst crimes that are imaginable within society,” [House Republican Leader Jim Durkin] said, adding that restoring the death penalty would signal a shift in how police officers are perceived by the public.

“We have to be able to change society about who we respect. Right now, there’s an attitude that police are the ones that are being vilified more so than the criminals who are committing these terrible crimes. So, we have to change the attitude about what police do. It’s for the people who have lambasted the police and have been highly critical of police. When their house is burglarized, who do they call? They call the first people, the police, to come over.”

Kind of a stretch.

* Related…

* Zorn: Even a ‘no doubt’ death penalty is fatally flawed: What we do know, Dunham said, is that in many of the 162 cases since the mid-1970s in which death row inmates have ultimately been exonerated, lower-level appellate courts have thundered about the “overwhelming evidence of guilt.”

* Former Gov. Quinn calls Rauner death penalty proposal ‘insincere’: “I think it’s regrettable that Rauner has tied this issue to anything other than a straight up issue of the death penalty,” Quinn told the Sun-Times. “It deserves that kind of complete focus, to not be tied to anything else. It hurts democracy. I think his actions yesterday were completely insincere. And it’s the way he operates.”

* Rauner on Death Penalty: More Politics than Policy?: The death penalty is not a deterrent, said Jennifer Vollen-Katz, executive director of the John Howard Association, an independent prison monitor and criminal justice reform advocacy group. She said the move was a step back from the strides Rauner made in criminal justice reform. … “It doesn’t do any favors to the state of Illinois,” Vollen-Katz said. “It is not going to make us safer, it is not going to save us money, it is just another failed tough-on-crime policy that seems to be an attempt at gaining attention and not doing what’s right for the people of Illinois.” … “We are distressed and alarmed by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s call for the reinstatement of the death penalty in any way, shape or form,” the [Catholic Conference of Illinois] said in the statement. “His call to put to death individuals convicted of mass shootings or the fatal shooting of a law enforcement officer under proof of ‘beyond all doubt’ instead of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ is simply parsing words. You cannot teach killing is wrong by killing.”

* Our View: Don’t play politics on death penalty: But putting people to death should not be a “gotcha” move that aims for a payoff in November in the voting booth. If the governor truly wants to reinstate the death penalty in Illinois in certain cases, an amendatory veto of a bill that has nothing to do with that issue is not the place to do so. A proposal of that magnitude should have hearings and be debated in the legislature and in the public realm. Is the death penalty actually a deterrent to committing crimes, as many proponents claim? Has enough changed in the way cases are handled and evidence processed since the death penalty was abolished that Illinois can be confident it could be reinstated without having the same problems that led to its demise? These are valid questions that deserve serious discussion.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

28 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:11 am:

    Durkin should stop talking. It’s embarrassing.

    Just make sure Boss Rauner’s checks clear and leave it at that.


  2. - Chris Widger - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:13 am:

    ==“We have to be able to change society about who we respect.”==

    Man, that’s not good, both grammatically and in its implications. The idea that reinstating the death penalty is going to “change society about who we respect” is idiotic on its face.


  3. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:17 am:

    What a sniveling little toadie.


  4. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:21 am:

    Mr Durkin,I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.


  5. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:22 am:

    So if the death penalty is imposed for killing a police officer it will make the public respect police more? How exactly? And there are lots of groups from reporters to politicians that are not respected. Could this work for them too?


  6. - Juice - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:22 am:

    Good to see that the John Howard Association has come out with a statement.

    Has anyone had a chance to ask John Maki on his views on the Governor’s proposal?


  7. - Juvenal - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:23 am:

    Trump. Rauner. Durkin.

    It’s all about Blue Lives Matter. Not because we actually care about police officers, because if we did we wouldn’t spend so much time attacking benefits for public employees.

    No, Blue Lives Matter is a repudiation of Black Lives Matter.

    And the inherent racial bias in Illinois’ death penalty system is a feature, not a bug.

    I hope you are listening, Charles Thomas, Maze Jackson, Ken Dunkin, Rev. Hatch: it is a feature, not a bug for the folks Rauner is pleading for votes.


  8. - Gooner - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:24 am:

    How they are perceived?

    The perception would be that their lives are more valuable than our lives.

    Is my life worth less than an officer’s? While I respect the work done by POs, I don’t think my life is less valuable.


  9. - Sonny - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:25 am:

    What a canard. Thought he was smarter than that but anyone running game for Bruce is suspect.


  10. - Juice - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:26 am:

    DuPage Saint, a lot of people lack respect for the police today because of a perception that some officers can act with impunity and behave as if they are above the law. So providing for the death penalty for killing a police officer but no other individuals will allow officers to get more respect by re-affirming those perceptions, or something.


  11. - Juvenal - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:26 am:

    === The death penalty is not a deterrent, said Jennifer Vollen-Katz, executive director of the John Howard Association, ===

    If only Illinois had a criminal justice information authority that could provide us with data.

    If only, John Maki, if only…


  12. - Pundent - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:28 am:

    Exactly who is Durkin talking about when he claims a lack of respect for the police?


  13. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:36 am:

    “Right now, there’s an attitude that police are the ones that are being vilified more so than the criminals who are committing these terrible crimes.”

    Right now there’s also an attitude that cops can get away with killing black people. But Rauner needs to get the base stoked up and foaming at the mouth about something.


  14. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:37 am:

    –Man, that’s not good, both grammatically and in its implications. The idea that reinstating the death penalty is going to “change society about who we respect” is idiotic on its face.–

    Yeah, he should stop talking.

    Durkin knows very well that this rewrite is cynical politics at its worst. Nothing in this effort - or lack of effort — shows respect for cops and their tough jobs.

    Durkin made his choice, to be a lackey for Rauner. Too bad for him.


  15. - IRLJ - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:40 am:

    To say that Rauner is shamelessly running to the right is to appraise this politely. Truly, it’s a poison pill that even he has to know wouldn’t be constitutional even if the earth shook and it passed, somehow.


  16. - Juvenal - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:41 am:

    @Pundent -

    “Black Lives Matter.”


  17. - walker - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:42 am:

    Durkin has been consistent on this issue over the years. He seems to believe in retributive justice as closure for victims’ families.


  18. - Swift - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:47 am:

    If Rauner’s belief that the death penalty is “serving justice” would he support the death penalty for police officers convicted of killing an unarmed citizen? If we are going to protect a profession based on the service they provide to the community, wouldn’t it follow that the protected profession be held to a higher standard and thus harsher sanctions for violating the public trust? Yes, the killing of a police officer is a horrible crime, but can’t the same be said for a police officer’s unwarranted killing of a citizen? Somehow we live in a society that wants to punish the mentally ill and disadvantaged, yet give trained professionals a pass on their transgressions.

    In case Durkin hasn’t seen any news for his entire life, people vilify the police because of unjustified police shootings, violent arrest tactics, general racism, and seizure of property for minor offenses, not because people think they won’t be executed.


  19. - Juvenal - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:47 am:

    @Pundent -

    Black Lives Matter is the ACORN of our times.

    ACORN was the Rainbow-PUSH or its time.

    And so on and so on, back through the Black Panthers (who actually made a brief comeback in 2008), Southern Law Poverty Center, all the way back to the NAACP in 1909.

    You know: those uppity folks.


  20. - Mason born - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:06 am:

    Maybe, just maybe a better way to avoid ppl villifying police would be for those police to show a little restraint. Radical I know but maybe less excessive force caught on tape would make them look less the villain (aka be villified), just sayin.

    Silly me, surely it’s better to declare their lives are worth more than anyone elses.


  21. - JoanP - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:08 am:

    “restoring the death penalty would signal a shift in how police officers are perceived by the public.”

    That’s flat out ridiculous.

    The way the public perceives people (police officers, politicians, whoever) is based on their actions, their behavior.

    And reinstating the death penalty in the face of exonerations based on police torture, false confessions, extorted and perjured testimony, is not going to change that perception.

    Rather the opposite, in fact. Because you’re telling the victimized community that you don’t care that innocent people landed on death row because of police torture, false confessions, extorted and perjured testimony.


  22. - SOIL M - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:11 am:

    If you judge just by the posts on this blog, opposition to the death penalty is one thing that many conservatives agree with progresives on. Many but not all. I believe that reflects on the opposition to it across the state. The majority of Voters are glad it is gone and dont want it to come back. Those that do want it to come back, many of them dont care about it enough to form a long line behind the governor in hopes that it will be reinstated. This may backfire on him more than it brings people in as he hopes.


  23. - anon2 - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:22 am:

    == closure for victims’ families ==

    How is having a killer filing dozens of appeals over 20+ years bringing the family closure? It introduces uncertainty about whether an execution will ever take place. By contrast, life in prison without parole provides certainty.


  24. - Actual Red - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:37 am:

    I’m admittedly not keyed in to the conservative base in Illinois. The assessment seems to be that the sudden move to reinstate the death penalty is an appeal to this group — does this actually seem like an issue that would motivate people?


  25. - IRLJ - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 12:12 pm:

    To say that Rauner, and his loyalist Durkin are tacking to the right to hold the GOP together downstate is to be polite. The death penalty, burden creation proposal’s lack of constitutionality is clear.


  26. - Demoralized - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 1:53 pm:

    The death penalty has never been about punishment or closure. It’s vengeance. I don’t fault anyone for wanting that but we shouldn’t pretend the death penalty is intended for anything other than that.


  27. - truthbetold - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 4:16 pm:

    My wife and I often wonder about those who advocate for the death penalty, yet call themselves “pro-life” when it comes to the issue of abortion. How do they reconcile their approval the state murdering adult citizens, yet the “murder” of an unborn is wrong?


  28. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 5:43 pm:

    “We are distressed and alarmed by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s call for the reinstatement of the death penalty in any way, shape or form” - the Catholic Conference of Illinois

    Maybe before signing it, Bruce can give the Catholics his solemn word that he won’t sign it.

    – MrJM


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