WBEZ | death penalty http://www.wbez.org/tags/death-penalty Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Nebraska repeals death penalty, but U.S. isn't quite ready to abandon it http://www.wbez.org/news/nebraska-repeals-death-penalty-us-isnt-quite-ready-abandon-it-112100 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/nebraskadeathpenalty.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Nebraska&#39;s Legislature voted Wednesday to abolish the death penalty, overturning Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts&#39; veto. The state&#39;s unicameral legislature overwhelmingly approved the measure in a series of three previous votes.</p><p>The repeal comes as other states have experienced complications with new lethal-injection cocktails. But Americans overall still support the practice.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="760px" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/death-penalty-20150527/child.html?initialWidth=767&amp;childId=responsive-embed-death-penalty-20150527&amp;parentUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2Fsections%2Fitsallpolitics%2F2015%2F05%2F27%2F410081971%2Fnebraska-repeals-death-penalty-but-u-s-isn-t-quite-ready-to-abandon-it" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Support for the death penalty has slowly fallen over the past couple of decades, from a high of 80 percent in favor in the mid-1990s to just over 60 percent currently, according to Gallup.</p><p>That is actually near a 40-year low, but the longer history of public opinion on the death penalty is much more unstable. Views of other social issues, like&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/183272/record-high-americans-support-sex-marriage.aspx">same-sex marriage</a>&nbsp;or&nbsp;<a href="http://www.livescience.com/22654-american-public-opinion-abortion.html">abortion</a>, have told somewhat clearer stories. Americans increasingly approve of same-sex marriage and have remained relatively deadlocked on abortion for decades.</p><p>What accounts for this? Any number of complicated factors combine to affect Americans&#39; views on the death penalty. Here are four potential explanations for the huge swings in Americans&#39; opinions:</p><p><strong>1. Fear.</strong>&nbsp;&quot;There are spikes in death-penalty support appearing during particular eras of what can be described as fear mongering,&quot; contended Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit organization that studies the policy. He explained that during the &quot;red scare&quot; of the 1950s, American support for the death penalty picked up. It fell off in the early 1960s, only to pick up again in the late 1960s and early 1970s after a rash of high-profile assassinations &mdash; Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., for example, and the attempted assassination of George Wallace. All of that contributed to a national conversation about the death penalty as the Supreme Court in 1972 found some death penalty statutes to be unconstitutional (effectively ending the practice for several years), but a 1976 decision opened the doors again. Then, the racially charged political rhetoric on crime in the 1980s (think Willie Horton) likewise fueled that support, according to Dunham&#39;s explanation.</p><p>Conversely, if a culture of fear contributes to support of the death penalty, public distrust of the government turns people against the policy, Dunham explains. During the Vietnam War era, when people started to question the government&#39;s choices, they also questioned the death penalty as a valid form of punishment.</p><p><strong>2. Violence.</strong>&nbsp;This is a case in which it&#39;s easy to read correlation as causation &mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/03/28/lower-support-for-death-penalty-tracks-with-falling-crime-rates-more-exonerations/">shifts in American support</a>&nbsp;for the death penalty&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115405/death-penalty-support-and-violent-crime-there-correlation">look remarkably similar</a>&nbsp;to those in the violent-crime rate since 1960. It&#39;s&nbsp;<em>possible</em>&nbsp;that as people perceive less crime happening, they also aren&#39;t as enthusiastic about meting out death as a punishment, but, of course, the direction (or size) of causality here is unclear.</p><p><strong>3. Wrongful convictions and DNA.</strong>&nbsp;As of today, 153 death row inmates have been exonerated. And the resulting stream of news about wrongful convictions &mdash; and potential wrongful deaths &mdash; is one of the main reasons Dunham gives for the recent decline in death penalty support.</p><p>&quot;As more and more executions occurred, more and more injustices came to light,&quot; Dunham said. &quot;There are [also] serious concerns about the poor quality of representation. But a lot of people think that the trigger was really the development of DNA.&quot;</p><p>Indeed, as of 1991 &mdash; only shortly after the introduction of DNA evidence in criminal trials &mdash; only 11 percent of people opposed to the death penalty&nbsp;<a href="link:%20http://www.gallup.com/poll/1606/death-penalty.aspx">told Gallup</a>&nbsp;it was because of possible wrongful convictions. By 2003, 25 percent gave this as their answer, though the share has fallen some to 17 percent since then.</p><p><strong>4. It&#39;s costly.</strong>&nbsp;Republicans remain far more likely to support the death penalty than Democrats, but support has fallen off among both parties, as well as independents, since the mid-1990s. Indeed, both Republicans and Democrats in the Nebraska Legislature voted against the death penalty. One reason those Republicans gave is the cost of executions, as&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/05/26/409859650/nebraska-governor-vetoes-bill-that-repealed-death-penalty">NPR reported</a>.</p><p>Over the past couple of decades, there has been mounting evidence that death penalty cases cost more than non-death-penalty cases, and that they&#39;re getting&nbsp;<a href="https://www.themarshallproject.org/2014/12/17/six-reasons-the-death-penalty-is-becoming-more-expensive">even more expensive</a>. Not only that, but there&#39;s evidence that executions&nbsp;<a href="http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-03-07-exepensive-to-execute_N.htm">cost more</a>&nbsp;than life in prison.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/05/27/410081971/nebraska-repeals-death-penalty-but-u-s-isn-t-quite-ready-to-abandon-it"><em>via NPR&#39;s It&#39;s All Politics</em></a></p></p> Thu, 28 May 2015 08:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/nebraska-repeals-death-penalty-us-isnt-quite-ready-abandon-it-112100 Q&A with Sister Helen Prejean http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/qa-sister-helen-prejean-110119 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Sister Helen by Scott Langley.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When Sister Helen Prejean became the spiritual adviser to death row inmate Patrick Sonnier in Louisiana, she began her journey as a long-time advocate for the incarcerated, and an educator about the death penalty. That experience was the basis for her the best-selling book and award-winning film <em>Dead Man Walking</em> starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. Throughout her work with inmates, she&rsquo;s also turned some of her focus to the treatment of exonerees and the wrongly accused, an issue we&rsquo;ve been following as part of our series <strong><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/taxonomy/term/25768/" target="_blank">Exoneree Diaries</a></em></strong>.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>You&rsquo;re best known for your advocacy for abolishing the death penalty, but you also served as a spiritual adviser for people you believed to be innocent on death row. How is that work distinct from your work against capital punishment &ndash; or is it?</strong></p><p>They&rsquo;re very connected because the practice of the death penalty to put people in a cell for 15 or 20 years and take them out and kill them, they&rsquo;re both related to a form of torture. What innocence shows is the brokenness of the system.</p><p>I am now with my seventh person on death row. The other six I have accompanied to their deaths. Of the six I have accompanied to their deaths, two of them were innocent, and the man I&rsquo;m with now on death row in Louisiana, Manuel Ortiz, is totally innocent.</p><p>It&rsquo;s going on 21 years. It all boils down to the dignity of the person.</p><p><strong>A new study shows that one in 25 people sentenced to death is likely innocent. What do think this means for the movement &ndash; our awareness of the likelihood that there are innocent people on death row?</strong></p><p>It&rsquo;s one of the factors that&rsquo;s helping us as a country to shut the death penalty down. I thought the same when I got involved. I thought it would be a real fluke that there could possibly be an innocent person [on death row] with all the appeals. I thought the courts handled it, and I didn&rsquo;t know if you have a broken system that&rsquo;s in square one.</p><p>Trials are supposed to be an adversarial way of coming to truth. You have the prosecution present, and then you have the defense present. You have prosecution in charge of the evidence, like the original police report where there were any other suspects. They have the rape kit. They have everything. And you have poor people who can&rsquo;t really mount a defense and really make it adversarial to question to have independent forensic testing because they don&rsquo;t have the money. They don&rsquo;t have the money to go get the eyewitnesses. They don&rsquo;t have resources.</p><p>It&rsquo;s bound to be flawed, and that&rsquo;s what I ended up concluding in &ldquo;The Death of Innocents&rdquo; that with this kind of broken structure, it is inevitable that the innocent will go with the guilty.</p><p><strong>Have you ever been a spiritual adviser to someone who was exonerated?</strong></p><p>No, but I&rsquo;m hoping it will be Manuel Ortiz. He&rsquo;s from El Salvador, going on 21 years on Louisiana&rsquo;s death row.</p><p>I&rsquo;ve been accompanying him 10 [years]. We just assembled a new legal team for him. Through Freedom of Information Act, he&rsquo;s been able to get [evidence] from the FBI. They had a lot of that information and wouldn&rsquo;t turn it over that they could have used to impeach the one person that said &lsquo;Yeah, he hired me.&rsquo;</p><p>They didn&rsquo;t have any forensic evidence. They didn&rsquo;t have anything. Just that one man saying, &lsquo;He hired me to kill his ex-wife.&rsquo;</p><p><strong>As someone who knows the in&rsquo;s and out&rsquo;s of the criminal justice system, what do you think aftercare should look like for the exonerated upon release?</strong></p><p>First of all, there needs to be a public apology by the prosecutor. It&rsquo;s very rare that you ever even get an apology because they maintain all along that they did the right thing.</p><p>The other thing is [exonerees] need to get remuneration from the state for the lost years of their life. And they need to learn social relationships. They&rsquo;ve been in that cell. They need to learn how to relate to women again, the ones who are men.</p><p>You need therapy. You need help. What has happened? Who are you now? When you&rsquo;re on death row, you get a thousand signals a day that you&rsquo;re nothing but disposable human waste.</p><p>What happens to a human being in terms of the brain and developing and learning? So [they need] school and education. They need to be part of a community circle where they can have a constant interaction and be able to share on a deeper, personal level. Then the job. What work are you going to do?</p></p> Thu, 01 May 2014 13:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/qa-sister-helen-prejean-110119 E.U. ban limits U.S. access to death penalty drugs http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-20/eu-ban-limits-us-access-death-penalty-drugs-95691 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2012-January/2012-01-20/death2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Though the European Union is staunchly against the death penalty, it's been in the business of selling death penalty technology to the U.S. for the past two years. But that all changed a few weeks ago, when the E.U. signed legislation making it illegal to export certain death penalty drugs -- like sodium thiopental and pentobarbital -- to America.</p><p>The U.S. ranks among the highest worldwide in its rates of execution, along with North Korea, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and China. And with the U.S. already suffering from a shortage in lethal injection drugs, the E.U. just made it a lot more complicated to execute in America.</p><p><a href="http://www.law.northwestern.edu/faculty/profiles/sandrababcock/" target="_blank">Sandra Babcock</a> is the clinical director at the <a href="http://www.law.northwestern.edu/humanrights/" target="_blank">Center for International Human Rights</a> at Northwestern Law School and runs a website called <a href="http://%20http://www.deathpenaltyworldwide.org/" target="_blank">Death Penalty Worldwide</a>. Sandra also helped push for the E.U.’s recent legislation. She joins us to explain how the ban might impact those sentenced to death in the United States.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 20 Jan 2012 18:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-20/eu-ban-limits-us-access-death-penalty-drugs-95691 Worldview 1.20.12 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-12012 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//episode/images/2012-january/2012-01-20/cyprus1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Turkey is threatening to cut off relations with the European Union if Cyprus takes over the rotating E.U. presidency, as planned later this year. The U.N. will bring together both Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders this weekend to move negotiations forward. Chicagoan Endy Zemenides, executive director of the <a href="http://www.hellenicleaders.com/" target="_blank">Hellenic American Leadership Council</a>, tells <em>Worldview </em>what’s at stake. Also, the European Union just sanctioned the U.S. on the death penalty, passing legislation that limits our access to the drugs we use for executions. <em>Worldview</em> delves into this issue with <a href="http://www.law.northwestern.edu/faculty/profiles/SandraBabcock/" target="_blank">Sandra Babcock</a>, clinical director at the <a href="http://www.law.northwestern.edu/humanrights/" target="_blank">Center for International Human Rights</a> at Northwestern Law School. She helped push for the E.U.’s recent legislation. And, film contributor Milos Stehlik reviews <em>Wages of Fear</em>, a film by master post-war French filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot.</p></p> Fri, 20 Jan 2012 14:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-12012 California seeks death for Chicago serial killer http://www.wbez.org/story/california-seeks-death-chicago-serial-killer-93553 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-27/resized Urdiales.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation abolishing the death penalty in the state earlier this year, it spared the lives of 15 men on death row.</p><p>But one of them may not be off the hook.</p><p>Andrew Urdiales, 47, a former U.S. Marine, could be put to death if he is found guilty in the deaths of five women in Southern California.</p><p>The Orange County District Attorney’s office announced this week that it will seek the death penalty against Urdiales if he’s convicted in the murders.</p><p>&nbsp;“We will be seeking the death penalty for the crimes that he committed in California,” Howard Gundy, senior deputy district attorney for the Orange County D.A.’s office, told WBEZ Thursday. “The factors of aggravation, which would call for the stiffest penalty, far outweigh any of the factors in mitigation.”</p><p>Urdiales is now awaiting trial in Orange County for the deaths.</p><p>He was extradited from the Pontiac Correctional Facility in Pontiac, Illinois in late September.</p><p>At Pontiac, Urdiales had been on death row for the murders of Laura Uylaki, 25, of Hammond, Ind., and Lynn Huber, 22, of Chicago.</p><p>Their bodies were dumped near Wolf Lake which straddles the Illinois-Indiana state line near Hammond.</p><p>In 2004, Urdiales was sentenced to death again for the 1996 murder of Cassandra “Cassie” Corum, 21, of Hammond.</p><p>Prosecutors say Urdiales dumped her body in the Vermilion River in Pontiac.</p><p>But the change in Illinois law in March abolishing the death penalty commuted Urdiales’ sentence to life without the possibility of parole.</p><p>Urdiales will be arraigned in Orange County on Dec. 1for the additional five homicides. Of the five homicides, three took place in Riverside County, one in San Diego County, and one in Orange County.</p><p>Gundy said it was decided to consolidate the five cases with the trial happening in Orange County.</p><p>Prosecutors say the killing started back in 1984 when Urdiales was a 19-year-old Marine stationed in Southern California until his discharge in 1991. That’s when he returned to the South Chicago neighborhood where he grew up.</p><p>Four of the five California victims are described as prostitutes ranging in age from 21 to 32.</p><p>His first California victim was 23-year-old Robbin Brandley who had been volunteering as an usher at a concert. Prosecutors say Urdiales wanted to kill a random person so he sought Brandley out following the concert and as she walked to her car. He’s alleged to have stabbed her 41 times with a six-inch hunting blade.</p><p>The case was cracked open in November 1996 when Urdiales was arrested by police in Hammond, Ind., for loitering in his truck near an area known for prostitutes. Police confiscated a handgun which he was not licensed to carry.</p><p>Ballistic testing in April 1997 by Illinois police found the gun confiscated by Urdiales was the same firearm used to shoot and murder three of the victims.</p><p>Urdialeswas soon after arrested for the three murders.</p></p> Thu, 27 Oct 2011 22:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/california-seeks-death-chicago-serial-killer-93553 Local attorney gives assessment of the Casey Anthony verdict http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-06/local-attorney-gives-assessment-casey-anthony-verdict-88777 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-06/Lyon photo 3.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Thursday there will be a sentencing hearing in the trial of Casey Anthony, the 25-year-old Orlando woman accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee in 2008. A jury of seven women and five men found her guilty of four counts of lying to law enforcement officers. But she was found not guilty of the most serious charges against her: first-degree murder, manslaughter and aggravated child abuse.</p><p>The verdict was as controversial as the trial and the coverage itself – a saga that played out 24-7 on national television and around water coolers across the country.</p><p>One Chicago attorney had a front row seat to much of the action: DePaul University law professor and noted death penalty defense attorney <a href="http://www.law.depaul.edu/faculty_staff/faculty_information.asp?id=29" target="_blank">Andrea Lyon</a> was a key member of the Anthony defense team in its early stages. She joined WBEZ’s Steve Edwards on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to share her reaction to the verdict.</p><p>Lyon came on to the defense team to block the prosecution’s capital punishment pursuit.&nbsp;<br> It was previously reported that Lyon eventually left the team because the cost of travelling from Chicago to Florida was adding up. Lyon admitted that while she’s defended dozens of death penalty defendants and received hate mail in the past, this was the first time she'd been physically attacked—twice in Orlando.</p><p>Edwards asked her to explain the context of the attacks: One took place while trying to interview a witness, the other, simply walking down the street in Orlando. The city, Lyon pointed out, has a long and difficult history of extreme racial tension. That led Edwards to ask what role race and class played in the Anthony case and the attention it received compared to other capital cases she argued.</p><p>“It plays an enormous role,” Lyon said. “We have an attractive, middle-class, white family; an attractive young woman with salacious photographs so we can love to hate her,” she continued. “And a beautiful little girl. But you know, as sad as it is, a lot of beautiful little girls go missing and unspeakable things are done to them all the time but if they’re African American or Hispanic, nobody cares.”</p><p>It would be foolish, Lyon said, to pretend that race and class had nothing to with this case.</p><p>Edwards described the outrage some expressed after the “bombshell” verdict as palpable. He asked Anthony’s former defense attorney for her reaction to the verdict and public response. “This is why we have trials instead of lynchings,” Lyon said.&nbsp; The judge sustained an objection from the prosecution once in eight weeks of trial. Lyons explained that this meant everything the state of Florida wanted to use to make the case against Anthony was allowed—every expert, every instruction, every restriction on closing arguments and a “death-qualified” jury.</p><p>But in the end, Lyon said, the jury digested the evidence and could not determine how Caylee died.<br> “Even their [the prosecution’s] medical examiner had to admit there was no cause of death, she could not rule out accident—and the jury said, ‘that’s not proof,’” Lyon explained.</p><p>And that, Lyon said, was how the jury was meant to rule—not on passions, not on whether they thought Anthony was a good or bad mother, or a bad person as she was often portrayed—but on whether or not Anthony or anyone killed Caylee.</p><p>Edwards concurred that a great deal of attention was paid to Anthony’s conduct during and in the aftermath her child’s disappearance—including detailed accounts and photos of partying and fresh tattoos—and wondered if her former attorney had a possible explanation for her client’s behavior.</p><p>She pointed to her friend and former partner, Jose Baez’s, opening statement whereby he explained that Anthony’s behavior was inexplicable to most people, but most people are not survivors of sexual abuse.</p><p>“If my son or daughter were missing for 31 seconds, let alone 31 days, I would go crazy—and most parents would,” Lyon began. “But most people are not child sexual abuse survivors. And most people have not had to develop a personality that acts like everything’s OK, when everything isn’t,” she reasoned.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Lyon attested that it was Anthony’s behavior that people hated but that it was not proof of a muder.</p><p>“That is what people have concentrated on—she didn’t behave the way that we think a woman should, the way that a mother should, the way that most folks would in a circumstance if their child was missing—and therefore, there must be a murderous thing behind that,” Lyon explained.</p><p>Edwards asked Lyon to explain her belief, about which she wrote and later argued in the Anthony case, in the existence of a gender bias when it comes to the application of the death penalty, specifically around questions of motherhood.</p><p>“It’s because she steps outside of gendered roles—a man who, you know, plays around and parties and whatever else, well, it’s not nice but you know, ‘boys will be boys.’ A woman who does that, it’s not acceptable,” Lyon said.</p><p>Further, she called the prosecution’s request for the death penalty in this case “simply outrageous.” To qualify a case for the death penalty, the prosecution must show that it’s a first-degree murder with what’s called an aggravating factor, or a plus factor, like the killing of a police officer in the line of duty. But capital punishment is supposed to be reserved, Lyon said, for people with awful criminal histories or where torture or other egregious facts exist. And in this case, she argued, the death penalty was used for a tactical advantage.</p><p>During the jury selection process in death penalty cases, a potential juror that is opposed to the death penalty is excluded for cause—it’s the only opinion one can hold that prevents a person from sitting on a jury. Therefore, Lyon said, a jury pool in a capital case is stacked with members that are pro-death-penalty and have been tainted, to a degree, by the process of considering the case for the death penalty before it has been argued.&nbsp;</p><p>The media coverage and public fascination, Edwards pointed out, was compared to that of the O.J. Simpson trial. He asked Lyon why a similar frenzy formed around the Anthony case.</p><p>“Well, there was a drumbeat started by someone who pretends to be a journalist and pretends she was actually a good lawyer, by the name of Nancy Grace,” Lyon began. “She actually encouraged people to go to the Anthony home and you know, start trouble.”</p><p>Lyon recalled counting 187 shows before the trial devoted to the case, helping create the fascination.</p><p>“It’s very easy to tap into hatred; it’s very easy to tap into those kind of mob, ugly kinds of reactions. It’s much more difficult to ask people to stop and think,” Lyon explained.&nbsp;</p><p>She went on to say that the media no doubt played a role in the prosecutions’ reach in charging Anthony.&nbsp;</p><p>Edwards asked what such heightened, intense media coverage does to a defense team’s navigation of a case.</p><p>It certainly interfered with the defense’s ability to interview witnesses—because once a person was identified as a witness, they were excoriated in the press.</p><p>Given the profile and attention of the case, Edwards wondered, what happens to defendants, like Casey Anthony, that are found not guilty or exonerated. Lyon called it a difficult road—defendants have spent a lot of time in prison, they’ve been treated badly and it has a damaging effect on their psyche. In Anthony’s case, a woman Lyon described as particularly “fragile,”so she is quite concerned.&nbsp;</p><p>Edwards asked her to clarify what she meant by fragile and she again pointed to the abuse Anthony survived. But for as much as the claim was discussed at trial, Edwards pointed out that there was not specific evidence to substantiate a history of abuse.</p><p>Lyon said, without revealing confidence, that there were witnesses that didn’t say things she assumed the defense was expecting to hear and that there were other witnesses that could have confirmed changes in behavior and things that are indicia to the type of mental health problem the defendant endured. She believed witnesses were frightened to come forward.</p><p>“So I am concerned—I don’t know where in this country she can live; safely. There are people who want her dead and I fear for her safety,” Lyon concluded.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 06 Jul 2011 13:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-06/local-attorney-gives-assessment-casey-anthony-verdict-88777 Cook County State's Attorney 'disappointed' by death penalty ban http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-10/cook-county-states-attorney-disappointed-death-penalty-ban-83493 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//alvarez_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> turned to individuals who work on capital cases for additional insight. Host Alison Cuddy spoke to <a target="_blank" href="http://www.statesattorney.org/index2/anitabio.html">Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez</a>.</p><p>Alvarez has been a vocal supporter of the death penalty, and<span style="font-style: italic;">&nbsp;</span>spoke by phone to talk about how this new legislation will affect prosecutors at her office.</p></p> Thu, 10 Mar 2011 15:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-10/cook-county-states-attorney-disappointed-death-penalty-ban-83493 Abolishing death penalty a national trend? http://www.wbez.org/story/abolish/abolishing-death-penalty-national-trend <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//AP100113026742-Seth-Perlman-2010-SOS_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's decision yesterday to abolish the death penalty will likely contribute to a nationwide trend.&nbsp;</p><p>At the height of support for the death penalty, 38 imposed the ultimate sentence but&nbsp; Quinn's decision Wednesday means that number is down to 34 according to Richard Dieter with the Death Sentence Information Center.&nbsp; Dieter says a lot of state's have been following what happens here in Illinois.&nbsp; He says people go interested in this state when so many men started being exonerated here.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;That was an eye opener not just for Illinois but for the country, and then when the governor took action on that that said this is a serious problem,&quot;&nbsp;says Dieter referring to former Governor George Ryan's decision to clear death row in 2003.</p><p>Ryan put the death penalty on hold, and Dieter says Quinn's decision to do away with it entirely is going to be looked at closely by other state's because Illinois has spent so much time debating this issue.<br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 10 Mar 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/abolish/abolishing-death-penalty-national-trend Daley and Emanuel at odds over death penalty http://www.wbez.org/story/capital-punishment/daley-and-emanuel-odds-over-death-penalty <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Rahm Emanuel and Juan Rangel of UNO in Pilsen - Bill Healy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago's current mayor and its future one disagree about whether Illinois should have the death penalty. <br /> <br /> The mayor has no official say on the death penalty issue. But when asked about it, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel said he supports Governor Pat Quinn's decision Wednesday to abolish it.<br /> <br /> &quot;I'm glad he's doing it. It's the right thing to do,&quot; Emanuel said at a cafe on the city's Southwest Side. &quot;Obviously, he thought hard about it.&quot;<br /> <br /> This position puts Emanuel at odds with Chicago's current mayor, Richard Daley, who has said in the past he supports the death penalty. Daley said Wednesday that his position had not changed, while stressing the need for expanded DNA testing.<br /> <br /> &quot;That solves all the human issues, dealing with the witnesses, dealing with police or anyone else,&quot; Daley said.<br /> <br /> Daley has experience with capital punishment and its flaws. He was Cook County state's attorney in the 1980s, when the office sought death penalty sentences for several men who were later exonerated.</p></p> Thu, 10 Mar 2011 00:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/capital-punishment/daley-and-emanuel-odds-over-death-penalty Quinn signs death penalty ban http://www.wbez.org/story/news/criminal-justice/quinn-sign-death-penalty-ban-wednesday <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Quinn 2010 budget address - AP Seth Perlman_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at: 1:35 pm on 01/09/11</em></p><p>Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has abolished the state's death penalty. The Democrat signed legislation Wednesday abandoning capital punishment, two months after Illinois lawmakers voted to do the same and more than a decade after former Gov. George Ryan imposed a moratorium because of concern that innocent people could be put to death.</p><p>Quinn also commuted the death sentences of all 15 condemned inmates to life in prison without the possibility of release, as Ryan had before leaving office in 2003, commuting the sentences of 167 condemned inmates to life in prison. Quinn has spent the last two months consulting with prosecutors, victims' families, death penalty opponents and religious leaders.&nbsp;</p> <p>In the past Quinn has said he personally supports the death penalty when properly implemented and would make a decision on the bill based on his conscience. He called abolishing the death penalty the &quot;most difficult decision&quot; he's made as governor, but stated that,&nbsp;&quot;We have found over and over again mistakes have been made, innocent people have been freed. It's not possible to create a perfect, mistake-free death penalty system.&quot;</p><p>Quinn offered words of consolation to victims' families,explaining&nbsp; that the &quot;family of Illinois&quot; was with them, and that he understands they'll never be healed from what has happened to them. Prosecutors and some victims' families had urged Quinn not to abolish the death penalty, as did Illinois' Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who cited safeguards that are in place to prevent wrongful executions.</p> <p>Leading anti-death penalty advocates say Illinois' move to abolish the death penalty is a turning point in the conversation on capital punishment nationwide, such as Kristin HoulDe, executive director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, who said &quot;I think that it shows the national momentum towards repealing the death penalty and all the efforts lift efforts in states like Texas.&quot; Larry Cox, executive director for Amnesty International USA. agreed, saying that &quot;No state has tried harder to fix its death penalty system, but after 10 years it became patently clear that it was broken beyond repair.&quot;</p><p>Illinois joins 15 other states and the District of Columbia without the death penalty. The new law takes effect July 1.</p></p> Wed, 09 Mar 2011 13:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/criminal-justice/quinn-sign-death-penalty-ban-wednesday