IL Prosecutor, Legislator Urge Execution Resumption


DuPage County, Il., State’s Attorney. Joseph Birkett has joined a Republican lawmaker in urging Gov. Rod Blagojevich to resume executions, saying Illinois’ death-penalty system has been reformed, the Chicago Tribune reports. “We encourage the governor to follow the law,” said Birkett, president of the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association. “It has been eight years since the moratorium was imposed.” Illinois juries have sent 12 people to death row in recent years.

Blagojevich, who ran for governor in 2002 as a death penalty proponent, plans to stand pat. A spokeswoman said he will “keep the moratorium on death penalties in place until it’s clear beyond a doubt that the reforms put in place [] are adequate and working and there’s no chance that an innocent person will wrongfully be put to death.” The lobbying effort comes after then-Gov. George Ryan instituted a death-penalty moratorium in 2000, and in 2003 commuted the death sentences of about 160 prisoners, citing a flawed system in which more than a dozen people were improperly put on death row. Birkett said prosecutors want to eliminate mistakes, and that the current number of 21 aggravating factors that could lead to a death penalty should be reduced to eight or nine.


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