The state of Illinois is doomed to fail

panorama : Illinois stops death penalty

The US state of Illinois has abolished the death penalty. The Democratic Governor Pat Quinn signed the law, which Parliament passed in January, after two months of reflection. All existing death sentences will be commuted to life imprisonment with no appeal. In the 2010 election campaign, he spoke out in favor of maintaining the death penalty. That contributed to his narrow election victory over Republican Bill Brady. The signature was "the hardest political decision of my life," said Quinn. However, he had come to the conviction that the procedures that preceded the death penalty in Illinois had led to several wrongful convictions and were "irreparable". Illinois is the 16th state to no longer allow the death penalty. 34 continue to hold on to her.

In practice, the death penalty had not been used in Illinois for eleven years. In 2000, Republican Governor George Ryan announced a moratorium after death penalty opponents found multiple sentences against innocent people. At the end of his tenure in 2003, he pardoned four convicts he believed to have been victims of miscarriage of justice and converted the death sentences of 167 other death row inmates into life sentences.

With the official abolition of the death penalty, Illinois is on the one hand a special case. On the other hand, it fits in with an America-wide trend in which the death penalty has been pushed back for years and is rarely carried out. There had been two attempts in US history to abolish the death penalty nationwide. Both are considered to have failed in the general consciousness. In the following years, according to collective memory, crime and the number of murders rose sharply. So America returned to the death penalty. Experts say the abolition of the death penalty was not the reason for the rise in violence. It would have been caused by other parallel factors. In the 1920s, the United States gradually phased out the death penalty. But prohibition, the general ban on alcohol, made the forbidden serving of alcohol a profitable business. The competition was fought in bloody gang fights in Chicago, Illinois and other major cities. The state resorted to draconian punishments, including the death penalty.

From 1972 to 1976, the death penalty was temporarily suspended due to a constitutional court ruling. At the same time, however, there were race riots and social uprisings with great violence in many large cities. Again, many citizens believed that this had to do with the lack of deterrence through the abolition of the death penalty. Since 1977 it has been allowed to be enforced again. By 1999 the number of executions per year rose to 98; since then it has been falling. It was 37 in 2008, 46 in 2010. It is mainly carried out in Republican-ruled states in the south such as Texas, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, but also in California, where the Democrats have a majority. In the vast majority of cases, however, the death sentence means life imprisonment in practice.

A stable majority of citizens, around two-thirds, are in favor of the death penalty. The opponents, however, always have success with lawsuits against the execution methods or because of doubts about the legality in individual cases. Almost everywhere a poison cocktail is used for execution. The US company Hospira, based in Illinois, manufactures it. However, one of the three substances, sodium thiopental, comes from production in a subsidiary in Italy. Italy has now banned the fabric produced there from being used for executions. The US is running out of methods of execution.

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