"It's the right move at the right time for the right reasons."
That was the message delivered in Springfield yesterday by Jeremy Schroeder, executive director of the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. His organization, as we noted last week, is making a big push in the state capitol this week to abolish Illinois' death penalty. Advocates are working to get a bill introduced this week that would redirect money the state pays in death row prosecution and defense fees ($100 million in the past seven years alone) to support law enforcement training and programs for the families of murder victims. (It's far more expensive, it should be noted, to pursue the death penalty than to keep an inmate in prison for life.)
Randy Steidl, one of 13 men since 1977 who have been exonerated for murders they did no commit, told the media at ICADP's press conference yesterday that the current system must be reformed. "Life without parole means exactly that," he added, "and you don't risk the possibility of executing an innocent person." Watch:
The State Journal-Register agrees. "A system that once nearly took 13 innocent lives is beyond rehabilitation," they wrote in an editorial this weekend. Currently, there are 15 Illinoisans awaiting execution, although Gov. Pat Quinn has promised to keep in place the state's moratorium on capital punishment, which was instituted a decade ago.