* 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.
* 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.