Ill. Death Row

July 1, 2011 by staff 

Ill. Death RowIll. Death Row, Illinois death row finally died Friday. After years of stories of men condemned to death for crimes they did not commit and the families of murder victims angrily demanding murderers of their loved ones to pay with their lives, to the death penalty in silence on Friday, when he finished The bill banning executions took effect.

That bill was signed with great fanfare in March by Gov. Pat Quinn, who was later commuted the sentences of the 15 men on death row to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Fourteen of those prisoners have been put in maximum security prisons across the state, while one was placed in a medium-security prison with a high mental health center.

Ironically, the state’s death row at Pontiac prison has become a place where inmates once they are deemed worthy of release from prison of maximum super-state and introduce a less restrictive prison, an official Department of Corrections said.

“This is one step below Tamms (maximum prison in southern Illinois) and its transition at a least restrictive environment, but not as restrictive as Tamms,” Stacey said Solano, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections.

As to the death chamber itself; last used in 1999, Solano said he has not made a decision about what, if anything, be done with it.

Because the fate of executions in the state was sealed in March, when Quinn signed the bill abolishing, last Friday to end the death penalty was observed almost throughout the state. Solano said the department received two calls reporting the media on Friday.

That lack of interest is in contrast to the last dozen years or so, when Illinois was at the center of national and international debate on the death penalty. Even before the day that the then governor. George Ryan declared a moratorium on executions in 2000 until the day in 2003 when he commuted to life imprisonment the death sentences of more than 160 inmates, the focus on capital punishment has shined brightest in Illinois.

In Illinois, where 12 men were executed between 1977, when the death penalty was restored and the year before the 2000 moratorium on Ryan, the issue never went away. While lawmakers debate the death penalty and Ryan’s moratorium remained in place, prosecutors continued to seek the death penalty. By the time Quinn signed into law in March, there were 15 men sentenced to death.

Among them was Brian Dugan, who was convicted in 2009 for the murder in 1983 of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicaro – years after two men were sentenced to death for killing it before they were finally acquitted and released.

His lawyer, Steven Greenberg, said Friday that the closure of the death penalty was appropriate because people were convicted and sentenced to death for this crime and others who had not made was the right thing to do.

“Whenever we have a system where there is danger of taking vengeance on the wrong person, no different to vigilante justice, who is what we had,” he said.

Greenberg said that some members of the jury to its decision to recommend the death penalty in other cases in recent years and were sending a message that they remain concerned about the possibility of executing an innocent person.

However, former Cook County prosecutor Dick Devine State, an advocate of the death penalty and a strong critic of Ryan’s decision to eliminate the death penalty, said that among those who benefit from the ban is a man who raped a mother and daughter face before stabbing another to death.

“I think there are some people who do terrible things that lose their right to be among us,” he said.

Devine also said he believes the death penalty is necessarily gone forever in Illinois, and that the debate will start again when there is a particularly horrific crime.

“I suspect that the next John Wayne Gacy, Timothy McVeigh will be a discussion going…. to bring it back,” he said. “There is nothing set in stone.”

Illinois has executed 12 men since 1977, when the death penalty was restored, most recently in 1999.

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