EDITORIAL: Death penalty concerning in Illinois

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Former Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation to abolish the death penalty in Illinois in 2011 after former Gov. George Ryan established a moratorium on the death penalty in 2000.

Now, a couple of state lawmakers want to bring the death penalty back to the state.

Rep. David McSweeney and Rep. Andrew Chesney recently co-sponsored a bill introducing the reinstatement of the death penalty, which would end the abolishment Quinn put into place eight years ago.

Their reasoning behind introducing the bill is because of the recent gun violence in Chicago and mass shootings throughout the country, and their hope is to deter future crimes of this nature.

McSweeney has said that he does not expect immediate approval of the bill, rather he just wants to get the conversation started before regular session begins in Jan. 2020.

We at The Daily Eastern News think if the death penalty is reinstated in Illinois, there should also be a rigorous list of rules to follow and guidelines to determine whether or not a crime is serious enough for capital punishment.

The death penalty is usually given to convicted criminals with cases that are extreme and atrocious, which is understandable; we do not want serial killers out on the streets or even in a prison where they could escape with some time, planning and effort.

However, an argument we also agree with is not wanting innocent people on death row to be executed for crimes they did not commit.

Illinois has had 21 exonerations of people who were originally convicted and put on death row.

We at The Daily Eastern News believe that until concerns of innocent people being executed can be eliminated, the death penalty should not be reinstated in Illinois.

As lawmakers find ways to relieve those concerns, they should also consider looking into other potential ways of deterring crime.

According to Urban Institute, five other options of deterring crime include using and expanding drug courts, making better use of DNA evidence, helping ex-offenders find secure living-wage employment, monitoring public surveillance cameras and connecting returning prisoners to stable housing.

We at The Daily Eastern News encourage lawmakers to thoroughly examine and vet all options and potential harms of capital punishment before voting on any bills regarding the death penalty in Illinois.