For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Name: Bonnie Cox
Title:  President, League of Women Voters of Illinois Board of Directors
Phone: 312.939.5935 x-35
Email address:  president1@lwvil.org

League of Women Voters Illinois Statement Regarding Governor Rauner's Call for the Reinstatement of the Death Penalty
CHICAGO, IL- May 22, 2018
 
Letter to the Editor:

Governor Rauner is calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty in Illinois by  creating a new category of homicide called "death penalty murder."
  
In 2001, the LWVIL adopted a position calling for the abolition of the death penalty which at that time was legal.

After study, the League concluded, among other things, that:
  • inadequate legal representation is a better predictor of who is sentenced to death than the facts of the crime.
  • the death penalty system is prone to error; and when a mistake may be irreversible, this is unacceptable.
  • the likelihood of innocent people suffering death is too great.  Before the death penalty was abolished in Illinois in 2011, 12 individuals had been put to death while  21 innocent people were freed from Illinois' death row.    
  • the death penalty cannot be adequately reformed because legislation cannot correct flaws such as: eyewitness error, false testimony, police and prosecutorial misconduct, and factors such as geography, race, and class.
In his message to the General Assembly Governor Rauner said, " Consequently, the only morally justifiable standard of proof in a death penalty case is 'beyond all doubt.'"  But can human beings make this judgment?  How many wrongfully convicted people have to be released before we come to understand that human beings simply cannot make these judgments flawlessly?

The Governor's Commission on Capital Punishment in 2002 was unanimous in the belief that "no system, given human nature and frailties, could ever be devised or constructed that would work perfectly and guarantee absolutely that no innocent person is ever again sentenced to death." (Report of the Commission on Capital Punishment, Conclusion, page 207.) 

The Governor has included in his amendatory veto some common sense gun policies, but to tie these to a return to the dark days of the death penalty is fatally flawed. We call upon the Illinois General Assembly to reject this ill-considered request from the Governor.

Bonnie Cox, President
League of Women Voters of Illinois
About the League of Women Voters of Illinois
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization, dedicated to making democracy work through voter education, issue advocacy and citizen participation. 
League of Women Voters of Illinois | Phone: 312.939.5935 |
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