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Illinois Notes

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In the course of deciding whether to sign the death penalty repeal, Gov. Pat Quinn found time to speak with Desmond Tutu, a citizen of South Africa whose experiences in a system radically different from ours shed little light on the controversy.

He refused to meet with Cindy McNamara, a citizen of Illinois whose experience as the mother of a murder victim is highly relevant to the question.  Along with signing the bill, Quinn commuted the sentence of the man who killed Shannon McNamara.  Mike Riopell has this story in the Daily Herald.

Meanwhile, a House committee has passed three restoration bills and sent them to the floor, Andy Brownfield reports in the State Journal-Register.  HB 1519 would reinstate a sharply narrowed death penalty.  HB 1738 would reinstate a somewhat broader one.  HB 1520 would submit the issue to a vote of the people, although the outcome would not be binding.  We have already seen such a referendum ignored in their neighbor to the north.

Of course, if you want to reinstate a reformed death penalty, narrowing the eligibility criteria is not the main reform to make.  The main thing is to fix the review system so that (1) cases with genuine claims of "you got the wrong guy" innocence get the most careful review; and (2) those without such a claim are reviewed expeditiously and, if affirmed, go from sentence to execution in five years.

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