Leaders Weigh in on Governor Rauner’s Controversial Death Penalty

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Governor Bruce Rauner pushes to bring back the death penalty in Illinois. The punishment would only apply to certain crimes. Local leaders weigh in on the controversial proposal, seven years after the death penalty was abolished by State Lawmakers.

Governor Bruce Rauner is asking the Illinois General Assembly to reinstate the death penalty as part of an Amendatory Veto to a House Bill on Gun Reform.  He wants those who kill two or more people, or law enforcement officers, to be sent to death row.

“Both of those I think are good [messages],” said Sen. Dave Syverson (R-35th) “We value life and we value the law enforcement officials who put their lives on the lines.”  Sen. Syverson supports the idea, but there are those who say death is not the answer, like Court Street Methodist Church Pastor Calvin Culpepper.  He believes it’s more important that convicted criminals get help, than punishment.  “If we can just figure out ways to implement rehabilitation, to help them come back, to where they need to be, and how they think, instead of trying to implement a law that will probably kill some innocent people.”

Senator Steve Stadelman spent years reporting on the topic of capital punishment. He says he knows through experience that the death penalty isn’t easy on either end of the spectrum.

“It’s an emotional issue for the victims of the crime and the family members of those who have been convicted whether that sentence should be the death penalty,” said Sen. Stadelman (D-34th) “With the death penalty there’s no second chances.”

Governor Rauner’s Proposal also includes other public safety measures. They are an extended 72-hour waiting period for gun purchases, a ban on bumpstocks, the ability for law enforcement to disarm individuals they deem dangerous, after due process, and holding the courts accountable by making them explain why charges are reduced in plea agreements for violent offenders. It also pushes to free up local revenue to hire officers and mental health workers at Illinois schools. None, however, as controversial as the death penalty.

“These are repeat offenders that shouldn’t have been out in the first place,” said Sen. Syverson (R-34th).  This legislation will crack down on those and send a message, if you’re going to kill a police officer or a mass shooting whether its in a school, at a park, anywhere else, we catch you you’re going to face the death penalty. “

“[The] death penalty says ‘we’re finished with you, were through with you,’ ‘you did a bad thing, it’s over,”” said Pastor Culpepper.  “Whereas they did take someones life, but we should allow them the opportunity to be transformed at restored.”

The Illinois House could vote as early as this week, if passed, it will then goes to the Illinois Senate for a vote.

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