Rauner calls for reinstatement of death penalty in Illinois for mass murderers, police killers

Monday, May 14, 2018
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Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed re-instating the death penalty for mass murderers and anyone who kills a law enforcement agent.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Gov. Bruce Rauner dropped a bombshell Monday, saying he wants to re-instate the death penalty for mass murders and anyone who kills a law enforcement agent.

The proposal is part of his amendatory veto plan for House Bill 1468, which he unveiled Monday and urges lawmakers to extend the 72-hour waiting period for delivery of all gun purchases in Illinois, ban bump stocks and trigger cranks and authorize restraining orders to disarm dangerous individuals.

"It is a comprehensive package. It is the thoughtful package. It is good policy. Every one of these six points will significantly improve the safety of the people of Illinois and each piece is critically important," Rauner said. "Individuals who commit mass murder, individuals who choose to murder a law enforcement officer, they deserve to have their life taken. They deserve that."

The governor said in order to apply the death penalty, the accused would have to be guilty beyond all doubt. The proposal is part of a comprehensive public safety initiative.

"So many times the person's caught in the act or so many times there's multiple witnesses and they're fleeing the act and there's no question of who did it. And you know what's really tragic, many times these perpetrators are proud of what they did," Rauner said. "There are plenty of cases where there's no doubt whose guilty and they deserve to give up their life when they take the life of a police officer who are our heroes or they take the life of many people. That is just so atrocious, so evil that they deserve to give up their life."

Former Gov.George Ryan put a moratorium on executions in 2000, and Rauner's predecessor Pat Quinn signed the law abolishing the death penalty in 2011.

Death penalty opponents point to the 20 death row inmates who have been exonerated in the past three decades as proof of problem here in Illinois.

"It's appalling again in the light of this state's wrongful conviction problem that this would be proposed," said Karen Daniel, director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions.

Leroy Orange, who was wrongly convicted of a quadruple murder in 1985, called Rauner's idea to bring back the death penalty a bad idea.

"I was a few months from being executed, I would have been executed had George Ryan not pardoned," said Orange

Rauner's plan came under fire from many sides.

"You're saying that some lives are more valuable than other lives, and that's not acceptable. For Bruce to say that the lives of police are more important than the lives of our children out here being shot and killed, I'd say charge Bruce Rauner with a hate crime," said Fr. Michael Pfleger pastor of St. Sabina Church on Chicago's South Side.

Rauner also called for the General Assembly to pass the Gun Crime Charging and Sentencing Accountability and Transparency Act, which requires prosecutors and judges to explain the rationale for reduced charges in plea agreements involving violent gun offenders. Rauner also called for amending the County School Facilities Sales Tax statute to allow school authorities use revenue to hire school resource officers and mental health workers.

Supporters of Rauner's plan said it would better protect police. The Fraternal Order of Police, the police union, said they are very supportive of this new death penalty proposal and believe it will help keep officers safer.

The amendatory veto was filed Monday and then it will be up to the State House of Representatives to consider the proposal.

Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady released a statement saying, "I believe that reinstating society's most serious penalty for the most serious of violent crimes, with the proper safeguards, is an appropriate response to the horrific violence we have witnessed far too often in recent times," said Brady. "The Governor's action today recognizes the need for a multi-pronged approach to dealing with deadly assaults. As part of that, those who choose to murder innocent victims in mass attacks or kill law enforcement officers should know they face the severest of sentences."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois urged state lawmakers to reject the governor's proposal in a statement released Monday, saying, "Seven years after Illinois ended the flawed, racially-biased death penalty in our state, Governor Bruce Rauner today used an amendatory veto to write this ineffective system back into law. Illinois has seen the harm that a flawed death penalty system can do, all while adding nothing to our public safety. Suggesting a return to this failed policy is particularly disappointing from a Governor who has proclaimed that the concept of redemption must be a critical part of criminal justice reforms."

State Senator Kwame Raoul, who was the original sponsor of the death penalty ban, said the governor's proposal has no chance of passing in Springfield.