National Feature · The Devil's Advocate

Illinois Bans Capital Punishment

After a decade long moratorium on executions, earlier this month, Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn (D) signed a ban on capital punishment in the state of Illinois. The bill, which sat on Quinn’s desk waiting for a signature for two months, makes Illinois the 16th state to ban the death penalty. 15 inmates on death row in Illinois were commuted by Quinn and will now face life without parole. Although Illinois has joined the ranks of states without capital punishments, the numbers of executions that occur in the United States is still atrociously high compared to the rest of the world, as this graphic shows:

Death Penalty Statistics

The death penalty is wrong for various reasons but perhaps most importantly, it’s wrong because the United States justice system isn’t perfect. The reality is that innocent people are convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. One case that relates directly to this new Illinois ban is the case of Rolando Cruz. Cruz was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in the Illinois Supreme Court. After 10 years on death row, Cruz was exonerated by DNA evidence and freed. This situation, while not common, does happen. The fact that innocent people have been executed in the United States should be enough evidence for any legislator to support a ban on capital punishment in any and every state.

That being said, the death penalty is also racist. Someone who kills a white person is almost five times more likely to be executed than someone who kills a black person. Also, blacks who kill whites are almost two times more likely to be executed than whites who killed whites, five times more likely to be executed than whites who killed blacks, and eight times more likely to be executed than blacks who killed blacks. These appalling numbers are another great example of why the death penalty needs to be a thing of the past in all 50 states.

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