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September 8, 2012

State legislator talking up bringing the death penalty back to Illinois

As reported in this local piece, a "downstate lawmaker plans to introduce a bill to reinstate the death penalty in Illinois." Here are more of the interesting details:

Sen. William Haine (D-Alton), tells the Illinois Radio Network he believes former Gov. George Ryan was “absolutely incorrect” when he commuted the sentence of all Death Row inmates before leaving office in 2003.  He also tells the network that he believes Gov. Pat Quinn was “wrong” to support a statewide ban on the death penalty, which was passed last year.

Under the new death penalty Bill Haine is proposing, acts of terrorism, mass murder, and murder during rape would qualify for the death penalty.  He says such crimes as the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre, the Sikh temple shootings outside Milwaukee, and the shooting in Tucson, Ariz., that killed six people and injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords would warrant the death penalty under his plan, the network reported.

Haine also downplayed the wrongful convictions that led Ryan to place a moratorium on the death penalty in 2000, telling the network that there were only “some flaws in just 13 cases out of several thousand.”...

Haine told the Illinois Radio Network he may introduce the reinstatement bill during the fall veto session in November, and hopes to get enough votes to override a veto by Quinn.

Among other interesting aspects of this story, I find especially appealing the suggestion of bringing back only a streamlined death penalty in which it appears felony murder would not be a capital crime and which only would make the most aggravated of killers death eligible. Such confinements on the application of the death penalty can minimize many (though not all) of the problems with the administration of capital punishment stressed by many (though not all) death penalty opponents.

September 8, 2012 at 10:42 AM | Permalink

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Comments

some flaws in just 13 cases!!!!!
chutzpah!!!!!

Posted by: Claudio Giusti | Sep 8, 2012 10:47:37 AM

I would like to place the question, to the honorable Senator, which I feel all people who contend that wrongful convictions on death row are insignificant.

Mr. Haine -- are you willing to be the one? Are you willing to be executed for a crime that you did not commit? How about the lives of your family? Are you willing to sacrifice them for the sake of the death penalty? If not, why is it okay to place that risk on people that you don't know, people you will never meet, and most probably, people who don't share your status, skin color, or bank account?

Posted by: Guy | Sep 8, 2012 10:03:13 PM

@Guy
Are you willing to be the one to do a life sentence? (insert pointless accusations of racism and classism here)

Posted by: MikeinCT | Sep 9, 2012 12:28:38 AM

@Mike:

Now, as before, your attempt at rhetorical jujitsu would only make a lick of sense if I said something like I am fine with innocent people going to prison. I'm not fine with innocent people spending time behind bars, nor do I think the risk of that is acceptable, nor do I advocate for the status quo of our current system. I'm getting a sense of deja vu.

Are they pointless? I don't think so, considering the racial and SES makeup of death rows in our country. And really they aren't accusations -- more insinuations.

Cheers.

Posted by: Guy | Sep 9, 2012 3:40:25 AM

Interesting update! James Inman and Lesley Mund at the University of Tennessee College of Law edited a special issue of the Tennessee Law Review that provides useful background on the death penalty. That's my go-to as an independent researcher for getting some context around the death penalty debate.

Posted by: Ricky Thomas | Sep 9, 2012 8:37:47 AM

Guy --

"I'm not fine with innocent people spending time behind bars, nor do I think the risk of that is acceptable..."

Then you must be for the abolition of imprisonment as well, since until it's abolished, the "unacceptable" risk of an innocent person's being incarcerated will persist.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 9, 2012 10:11:10 AM

Bill:

Key difference, though, between prison and the death penalty. Arguably, prison is necessary to accomplish the ends of state-sponsored punishment, whereas the death penalty is not (see, for example, every other first world democracy that has abolished the death penalty and has not yet burst into flames). Now, the to which and to what extent we rely on prisons to sort out our societal problems is up for debate, but I can agree that prisons are necessary in a society. So do I accept the fact that false imprisonment is a possibility in a society with a penal system, that it is a tradeoff? Of course. But do I go, ho hum, innocents go to prison, oh wells? No. Not in the slightest. It upsets me very much when that happens. I would like to see a different system in place, one calibrated much more in the direction of not putting innocent people in prison.

One other notable difference between lwop and dp is that when you get life the state doesn't kill you. I guess it's mostly impossible to know if we have or exactly how many innocent people we have killed, but there have been multiple DNA exonerations that came within hours of being killed. Then there were those who weren't as lucky, like Carlos de Luna (again, didn't look like you or I, or have our smarts, or our resources). Suffice it to say, at least with a life sentence there is not the possibility that the state will stick a needle in your arm before you can get the evidence together to prove your innocence.

Posted by: Guy | Sep 9, 2012 10:32:37 PM

Guy --

"So do I accept the fact that false imprisonment is a possibility in a society with a penal system, that it is a tradeoff? Of course."

Good. If you'd said that the first time around, I never would have asked.

"I would like to see a different system in place, one calibrated much more in the direction of not putting innocent people in prison."

I can give you one right now. We can have 100-member juries, still requiring a unanimous vote to convict. I guarantee you fewer innocents will go to jail. Do you think a system like that would make sense?

P.S. I must have missed the neurtal body's determination that de Luna was innocent. Oh.....wait.....there was no neutral body. Wasn't it abolitionist crusader James Liebman?

Tell me, would you accept Glen Beck's assessment of the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate? Then you'll see why I won't accept Prof. Liebman's utterly one-sided assessment of innocence.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 9, 2012 10:56:31 PM

Bill:

Good. If you'd said that the first time around, I never would have asked.

Do you want to take up my question now, Bill?

I can give you one right now. We can have 100-member juries, still requiring a unanimous vote to convict. I guarantee you fewer innocents will go to jail. Do you think a system like that would make sense?

Because that's the only possible reform that can be made, obviously. I can think of a half-dozen, common sense reforms that can be made easily that I guarantee will reduce the probability of false convictions. Removing qualified immunity from prosecutors who sit on exculpatory evidence would be a dandy start.

P.S. I must have missed the neurtal body's determination that de Luna was innocent. Oh.....wait.....there was no neutral body. Wasn't it abolitionist crusader James Liebman?

So you're familiar with his case and you can ably demonstrate that de Luna was guilty in a way that does not rely on ad hominem? I'm all ears, Bill.

Tell me, would you accept Glen Beck's assessment of the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate? Then you'll see why I won't accept Prof. Liebman's utterly one-sided assessment of innocence.

How did you know I think Glenn Beck is a loon? I do think that he's wrong about Obama's birth certificate, but not because I think he's a loon. My reasoning doesn't go like "Glenn Beck is a loon -- therefore, Obama is a US Citizen" as your reasoning with respect to the de Luna case seems to be "Liebman is an abolitionst (even assuming that's true) -- therefore, de Luna was guilty."

Evidence independent of what Glenn Beck has to say leads me to the belief that Obama was born in Hawaii -- notably, the fact that the certificate has been released and the concomitant announcements in local papers announcing his birth -- so my conclusions are based on something other than my dislike of Glenn Beck (notably, reality).

Posted by: Guy | Sep 10, 2012 11:46:11 AM

Guy --

I've had decently respectful conversations with you. If you want to get smart and belligerent, go ahead, and I will just talk with the numerous liberals on this board who don't.

"So you're familiar with his case and you can ably demonstrate that de Luna was guilty in a way that does not rely on ad hominem? I'm all ears, Bill."

No, you're not all ears. You've made up your mind.

Nonetheless: Go read the record in the case and the numerous judgments of the courts that reviewed it. Post- judgment, the burden of proof is on the losing party, not on me, and that burden is not discharged by citing a completely one-sided, post-facto study by a lifelong partisan and abolitionist advocate. Did Liebman require -- indeed, did he even permit -- cross examination of even one of the sources he used? Does that tell you anything about the reliability of his work, as opposed to the reliability of the courts?

P.S. The problem with Glen Beck is not that he is or is not a loon. The problem is that he's one-sided. The other problem is that he yells all the time. At least Liebman has only one of these problems.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 10, 2012 6:45:07 PM

Bill:

I've had decently respectful conversations with you. If you want to get smart and belligerent, go ahead, and I will just talk with the numerous liberals on this board who don't.

I'm not terribly smart, Bill. I do okay. I don't mean to be belligerent, though. I looked through my last post, and I'm not really sure what you took to be snark -- I didn't intend it as such.

No, you're not all ears. You've made up your mind.

I mean, I read the article, sure. And the case that they put forward seems pretty convincing. I'm certainly open to an alternative argument, which I was hoping you would put forward, but it seems all you had was the ad hominem.

Nonetheless: Go read the record in the case and the numerous judgments of the courts that reviewed it. Post- judgment, the burden of proof is on the losing party, not on me, and that burden is not discharged by citing a completely one-sided, post-facto study by a lifelong partisan and abolitionist advocate. Did Liebman require -- indeed, did he even permit -- cross examination of even one of the sources he used? Does that tell you anything about the reliability of his work, as opposed to the reliability of the courts?

I think that's kind of a cop-out -- respectfully -- to say that just look at the judgments of reviewing courts. There are oodles of appellate decisions affirming convictions of death row inmates later exonerated by DNA. Just because an appellate court was acting as a rubber stamp for the state doesn't mean that the dude is actually guilty.

And, as I understand it, it wasn't just Liebman, but the entire crew of the Columbia HRLJ. Unless you're asserting it was a liberal conspiracy (again, I'm not trying to be disrespectful, but I don't know how else to address the ad hom argument), you're also kind of crapping on their work too without really addressing it.

I'm not really sure what you mean by permit cross examination of his sources -- I suppose anyone can go talk to them. He doesn't keep their identities secret. So I suppose anyone can go and have a chat with them.

So, as I take it, at the end of the day, your claim is not that Liebman at al are mistaken, the de Luna was actually guilty of murder, but that they are lying. Or, rather, that they, and all the sources they used are lying. And not only that everyone is lying, but that the CHRLJ is complicit in the conspiracy, as well.

I mean, if you have evidence that Liebman is lying, or has a history of falsifying materials, I would certainly be receptive to that as well in addition to argument on the merits. It's not that I won't change my mind about de Luna, it's just that I haven't heard anything substantive so far from the other side (other than the appellate courts said he was guilty, but I think, as I said above, that may not be worth a whole hell of a lot).

Posted by: Guy | Sep 10, 2012 10:35:27 PM

Guy --

"Just because an appellate court was acting as a rubber stamp for the state doesn't mean that the dude is actually guilty."

Just because the abolitionist hotheads at the HRLJ were acting as a rubber stamp for the killer doesn't mean that the dude is actually innocent.

"And, as I understand it, it wasn't just Liebman, but the entire crew of the Columbia HRLJ."

That's right, it wasn't just one abolitionist crusader, it was a whole bunch of them. Is that your idea of neutrality?

"I'm not really sure what you mean by permit cross examination of his sources -- I suppose anyone can go talk to them."

So the opportunity for a skeptic to "go talk to" a source is cross examination??? If that's what you think, you are not ready to be a lawyer, with or without the bar exam.

You do not, because you cannot, refute my assertion that, post-conviction, the burden of proof rests on the defendant, nor my observation that a years-later, one-sided "study" by a group that has made up its mind in advance is not something any fair minded person would regard as the discharge of that burden.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 11, 2012 9:00:27 PM

Bill:

Just because the abolitionist hotheads at the HRLJ were acting as a rubber stamp for the killer doesn't mean that the dude is actually innocent.

Again with the ad hominem. Do you have anything substantive to add, or is it just going to be name-calling from here on out?

That's right, it wasn't just one abolitionist crusader, it was a whole bunch of them. Is that your idea of neutrality?

So it is a liberal conspiracy! Do you have any evidence of this conspiracy Bill? Any evidence whatsoever that all of these people, and their sources, including one of the original Detectives, are all lying?

I didn't think so.

So the opportunity for a skeptic to "go talk to" a source is cross examination??? If that's what you think, you are not ready to be a lawyer, with or without the bar exam.

Your assessment of my abilities stings Bill, and I'll try to continue typing through the tears. Again, do you have anything substantive to add, or is it just going to be name-calling from here on out?

You do not, because you cannot, refute my assertion that, post-conviction, the burden of proof rests on the defendant, nor my observation that a years-later, one-sided "study" by a group that has made up its mind in advance is not something any fair minded person would regard as the discharge of that burden.

I kind of think that burden has been satisfied, or at least merits a substantive response (substantive being something other than "It's a liberal conspiracy!" or "They're all lying because they're abolitionists!") It's up the the Defendant to establish innocence? What would you have us do, Bill? Get a Ouija board? Resurrect de Luna from the dead so that he can petition the courts?

Again, do you have any evidence that what they report is false? That they have falsified anything? That any of their sources are lying? Or is it just going to be name-calling from here on out?

That's what I thought.

Posted by: Guy | Sep 12, 2012 2:10:57 PM

Bill:

And one final, serious question -- all I ask is an honest answer:

Have even read the book you're shooting down as a liberal conspiracy?

Posted by: Guy | Sep 12, 2012 2:12:58 PM

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