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February 18, 2011

"Prosecutors fear losing death penalty in Illinois"

A fast internet connection and a break in the great Toledo symposium panels provides me with an opportunity to link to this interesting new Chicago Tribune article which shares a headline with the title of this post.  Here is an excerpt that really caught my attention: 

Across the state, prosecutors fear that with the stroke of a pen Gov. Pat Quinn could make their jobs harder if he agrees to sign a measure that would outlaw the death penalty, sparing the 15 inmates on the state's death row and the defendants who prosecutors want to put there. 

As Quinn weighs the matter, saying he wants to "follow my conscience" and consult widely, the states' attorneys say the move would rob them of an important bargaining chip -- the threat of death to get guilty pleas from suspects who opt for life in prison.  Take that off the table, they say, and there'll be more trials because defendants facing only the prospect of life behind bars would be less inclined to deal.

"When we go to battle in the most serious, heinous cases, we have to have every weapon available to us," said Thomas Gibbons, the state's attorney in southwestern Illinois' Madison County.  "Let's say you're playing cards and you lose your ace -- you're one step behind."

Prosecutors also argue that repealing the death penalty would take away their access to the Capital Litigation Trust Fund, the pool of state money that pays for death penalty trials, likely forcing already cash-strapped counties to absorb the entire cost of murder trials.  The money would be used instead for services for families of homicide victims and law enforcement training.

February 18, 2011 at 01:24 PM | Permalink

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Comments

"the states' attorneys say the move would rob them of an important bargaining chip"

And others say it would declaw their extortion chip.

Posted by: George | Feb 18, 2011 1:48:19 PM

The governor is being slow because he favors abolition, and is afraid of the resulting public reaction. Abolition gives absolute legal immunity for all crimes after the first murder.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 18, 2011 10:33:22 PM

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