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January 7, 2011

Illinois house in close vote approves death penalty ban

As detailed in this Reuters report, the "Illinois House on Thursday voted to ban the death penalty, moving the measure on to the Senate a decade after a moratorium on executions was put into place by former Governor George Ryan." As the article details, the vote was close and the prospects for the ban becoming law still seem uncertain:

Thursday night's vote came after a first vote failed, according to Illinois State Representative Elaine Nekritz, a Democrat who voted in favor of the ban. The final vote was 60-54 in favor of the ban. "I believe the history of the death penalty in Illinois demonstrates that we are not in a position to get it right 100 percent of the time," said Nekritz, explaining her vote....

If the bill is approved in the state senate it still must go to Governor Pat Quinn, who has said he continues to favor the death penalty for the worst crimes, according to local media reports.

Opponents of lifting the ban include the Illinois State's Attorneys Association, which has said the death penalty is useful for law enforcement and to achieve justice.

January 7, 2011 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

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"The Governor of Colorado issued a posthumous pardon yesterday (January 7) for a mentally retarded man, Joe Arridy, who was executed in 1939 for a crime he confessed to but did not commit." So much for the canard that the innocent have not been executed. What say you Bill, federalist and Scalia?

Posted by: anon 12 | Jan 8, 2011 5:07:03 PM

The pardon for Joe Arridy was the right thing to do for Coloado Governor Bill Ritter, a previous hard-nose Denver DA, because of the overwhelming evidence against the mentally-challenged Joe Arridy and his crime and punishment. In the process of writing the screenplay, I read the two court transcipts of the two trials, and saw how Arridy was convicted on false evidence. There was false evidence in a testamony by a Pueblo pawn shop owner that Joe bought a gun from him on the day of the crime and signed his name on the purchase as "Joseph Arridy." He couldn't spell beyond a feeble "Joe." He didn't know what a gun was or have the money to purchase one. Testamony by Cheyenne Sheriff Caroll put the final touches on his conviction, saying Joe confessed to him but there was no record of the confession. I must mention there was a large reward for the apprehension of the Pueblo killer. Evidence like this send the boy to the gas chamber. I approached Denver lawyer Dave Martinez and after reviewing the evidence he agreed in Joer's innocence and presented the 600-page document to the Governor.
Joe was represented by Denver lawyer, Gail Ireland, who became a two-time Colorado Attorney General. Ireland fought for him all the way to the door of the gas chamber, losing 4-3 in the Supreme Court. He wrote in a letter that gassing Arridy was a "murder itself and it would take a long time for Coloado to live down the shame.
Well, the time has come, nearly 72 years to the day Arridy walked smiling into the gas chamber. Wardon Roy Best had told him to give away his toy train because he wanted to take it with him. On the walk to the gas chamber, Best asked him if he still wanted to feed the chickens in heaven. Joe's response: "No I want to play the harp." Sad but true. But we have some redemption for him. Kodos to ther Governor for doing the decent thing.
Daniel Leonetti, Trinidad

Posted by: Dan Leonetti, novelist and screenwriter | Jan 11, 2011 12:55:13 AM

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