Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The StandDown Texas Project: The Illinois Moratorium

The Illinois Moratorium

"State moratorium on executions - 10 years and counting," is the title of Robert Sanchez's report in the Daily Herald, Chicago's suburban paper.

More than a decade has passed since an execution occurred in Illinois. Experts say it could be even longer before the state puts its next condemned inmate to death - if it happens at all.

On March 16, 1999, Andrew Kokoraleis was put to death by lethal injection after he was prosecuted for his role in the slaying of nearly 20 women in the 1980s in Cook and DuPage counties.

Then in 2000, former Gov. George Ryan, citing the wrongful prosecution of Rolando Cruz for Jeanine Nicarico's murder, declared a statewide moratorium on executions. He cleared out Illinois' death row three years later when he commuted 167 death sentences to life terms.

At the time, a commission Ryan formed recommended about 85 changes to the justice system it said needed to be completed before the state should consider reinstating the death penalty.

Only about 20 of those suggestions have been adopted, according to Richard Dieter, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center.

"The governor (Ryan) took the position that if there aren't enough assurances passed by the legislature, he's going to continue the moratorium," Dieter said. "Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and (Gov. Pat) Quinn continued that because there hasn't been much more action. There is a sense that more needs to be done. It's sort of a stalemate."

Earlier this year, Quinn said he has no immediate plans to lift the moratorium on the death penalty. He said he wants adequate safeguards in place to ensure no innocent person is put to death.

Capital punishment is still state law in Illinois. The report notes that 15 men have been sentenced to death in the state since then-Governor Ryan issued his commutations.

An earlier article on the state's moratorium is noted here. Related articles are in the moratorium index


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