Illinois lawmaker calls for the state to bring back the death penalty

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ILLINOIS (WTVO) — An Illinois state lawmaker wants to bring the death penalty back to the Land of Lincoln.

Capital punishment was abolished in the state, in 2011, but some still consider it an effective tool to prevent violent crime.

29 states still have the death penalty. Representative David Mcsweeney wants to make that an even 30.

He says “I believe Illinois continues to have a major problem with violent crime. I do believe that technology has improved. I believe that DNA technology specifically will make it much better to ensure that there are absolutely no cases of mistaken convictions.”

The Illinois Innocence Project works to protect those who are wrongly convicted of crimes.

Executive Director, John Hanlon, worked on death penalty cases for 22 years before it was abolished.

“This has been tried and failed,” Hanlon said. “I terms of the DNA every day. It is so much more complicated than just saying technology is better. We can now discern guilt and innocence in all cases. That is just not true.”

Hanlon says the death penalty debate is always about politics.

“The death penalty is in some states and always has been a political tool,” Hanlon said. “This is for politicians to say that they are tough on crime. The death penalty is not an effective deterrent. All of the studies say otherwise.

Mcsweeney says this isn’t about him wanting to position himself as tough on crime for a potential state-wide office bid.

He thinks there are cases in Illinois that warrant capital punishment, but Mcsweeney admits it will be difficult to gain support in the upcoming session.

He wants to get the subject out there, but Hanlon thinks the idea could end up killing someone who’s not guilty.

“The chances of making a mistake with an innocent person, I don’t care how many steps are in place, there is always a chance of an innocent person being sent to death row, and that should be everyone’s ultimate nightmare,” Hanlon said.

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