Sunday, January 9, 2011

Illinois Getting Closer to Abolishing the Death Penalty


by JuJuBe (Joanna)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois House has approved a plan to abolish capital punishment in a whirlwind reversal on a historic vote.

The legislation to halt state-sponsored execution gained the necessary 60 votes Thursday after an earlier vote fell short.

The landmark action comes nearly 11 years after then-Gov. George Ryan cleared death row and declared a moratorium on capital punishment in Illinois.

The legislation now moves to the Senate, where President John Cullerton says he supports the proposal and hopes it passes. But the Chicago Democrat says he won't push his members to back it, calling the vote a personal decision.

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. Quinn has said he supports the death penalty but won't reinstate it until he's sure it works. His office isn't saying whether he supports the repeal legislation.

Why do people even continue to support the death penalty? Think about it, with so many people being proven innocent by DNA testing after decades spent in prison, is the death penalty really something that we need in this country? Isn't it safe to say that one innocent person put to death is too many?

Now, when I was a child, I was taught that "two wrongs don't make a right". So, what exactly does the death penalty do to bring about justice? Is the victim of a person who is executed get their life back upon the death of the perpetrator of their murder? Um, nope. Does the death penalty dissuade other people from committing crimes? As far as I can tell, it does not. So, why would we want execution to be an option?

The justice system is fatally flawed. It is a racist, classist system. If you are a rich white man, you have to do a hell of a lot worse to get locked up than if you are a poor Black man. And forget about the death penalty! Over the years, it has been shown time and time again that Black and Hispanic men are disproportionately victims of state sanctioned murder!

Once a prosecutor decides to seek the death penalty, a system is set in place that guarantees a harsher sentence for the accused. See, an individual who states that they will not vote for the death penalty under any circumstances can automatically be disqualified from the jury pool in a capital case. So, the jury pool is skewed towards individuals with a harsher view of what is just punishment for a crime.

The death penalty is also used as a scare tactic to frighten those who might be found innocent during a trial into pleading guilty without ever stating their case to a jury of their peers. How many people, even KNOWING that they are innocent, would be so scared of being sentenced to death that they will confess to a crime that they did not commit simply to stay alive?

The death penalty is antiquated and biased. It is not sought in only the very worst cases (serial murder and torture) but instead targets the poor and the vulnerable.

Fourteen states have already discontinued the use of the death penalty through laws banning capital punishment. Hopefully the rest will follow suit! "An eye for an eye" just does not work in a system that is so rife with corruption and racism!


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