Cullerton, senators: Don’t use death penalty for politics

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SPRINGFIELD – In response to the governor’s proposal to bring back state executions, Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton reminded everyone Monday that scandals, overturned convictions and other systematic problems were why lawmakers abolished the death penalty in Illinois.

“The death penalty should never be used as a political tool to advance one’s agenda. Doing so is in large part why we had so many problems and overturned convictions. That’s why we had bipartisan support to abolish capital punishment,” Cullerton said. “I’ve seen nothing from today’s announcement to suggest that lesson has been learned.”

State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) released the statement below following Governor Rauner’s amendatory veto of House Bill 1468.

“The governor had a rare chance today to take a meaningful step in reducing the gun violence epidemic by creating a 72-hour cooling-off period before allowing an individual to purchase an assault weapon. Instead, he chose to inject politics into what should be a common-sense safety issue.

“While I would support many of the proposals suggested by the governor, he has expanded the scope of the original legislation, which flies in the face of our state constitution. If the governor seeks to have serious negotiations on how we can eradicate gun violence, I welcome him to the conversation.”

State Senator Daniel Biss issued a statement today as well.

“This is a cynical political move that will do nothing to make our public places safer,” said Biss (D-Evanston). “As a state we made the right decision to abolish the death penalty, a process that required real leadership from Republican and Democratic governors. Sacrificing the state’s moral authority by reversing that decision would be a significant step backward.”

After an 11-year moratorium, the death penalty was abolished in the state of Illinois by legislative action in 2011.

State Senator  Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) issued the following statement:

“Governor Rauner’s amendatory veto is deeply troubling and reprehensible. In 2011, Illinois took a tremendous step forward and progressed beyond the deeply flawed use of capital punishment, which has been proven to be racially-biased and ineffective in deterring crime. It goes without saying that the death penalty has no place in modern society. Attaching this regressive proposal to a piece of compromised public safety legislation is the first of many scrambling attempts by Governor Rauner to score cheap political points with the ultra-right voters who rejected him in his party’s primary.”

HB 1468 would have implemented a 72-hour wait period for assault weapon purchases.

State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago) released the following statement:

“It’s clear that the governor’s rewrite of HB 1468 is a partisan ploy to kill this legislation. This plan originally focused on a 72-hour wait period for the delivery of assault weapons. His change to extend this to all weapons is something that we could discuss as a legislative body, but to combine multiple bills and throw in death penalty policy, isn’t.

Gov. Rauner’s had HB 1468 on his desk since March 15. He decided to make changes just one day before his deadline to take action to limit the amount of time the General Assembly has to consider it. He essentially wants the plan to die. During the governor’s State of the State address he said he wanted ‘bipartisan dedication to restore public trust,’ yet he plays these political games with legislation that’s meant to prevent gun violence and mass shootings.

We have little more than two weeks left in session. It’s time to work together to do what’s best to protect working families throughout our state, not play partisan politics.”

State Senator Jacqueline Collins issued the following statement:

“Just as darkness cannot drive out darkness, death cannot deter death. The day Governor George Ryan declared a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois was a day humanity prevailed over brutality,” Collins said. “The state is tasked with dispensing justice, but it should not be in the business of taking away the gift of life. This move by Governor Rauner is shortsighted and shocking in its cynicism. I oppose his recommendation and I urge all my colleagues and all those who value life to voice their opposition as well.”