Illinois law enforcement authorities have grown to like the required videotaping of murder suspects’ interrogations, but they sometimes lack enough video cameras to do the job, a panel studying Illinois’ death-penalty reforms was told yesterday, reports the State Journal-Register in Springfield. That illustrates some of the “deficiencies in funding” resulting from measures enacted in recent years to fix Illinois’ capital punishment system, said Thomas Sullivan, chairman of the Capital Punishment Reform Study Committee.
The committee is responsible for evaluating the effectiveness of the reforms. Those changes include videotaping interrogations of murder suspects and tougher rules for using testimony from jailhouse informants. The co-director of the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, Larry Golden, suggested that the reforms could unintentionally result in convicting more innocent people. When prosecutors do not pursue the death penalty, defendants are not entitled to dip into the Capital Litigation Trust Fund for their criminal defense. It is possible, he said, that prosecutors “strategically withdraw the death penalty” to put defendants at a disadvantage. Prosecutor Ed Parkinson, a panel member, disputed Golden’s contentions.