Illinois governor seeks to reinstate death penalty


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Eight years after Illinois abolished the death penalty, the state's Republican governor today proposed reinstating the punishment for mass killers and people who gun down police officers.

Gov. Bruce Rauner tied the death penalty plan to gun restrictions favored by Democrats who control the Legislature – inserting it into legislation that lengthens the waiting period for taking possession of rifles or shotguns from 24 hours to 72 hours, and adding other limits on firearms possession.

"I don't believe that this is anything other than very good policy, widely supported by the people of Illinois," Rauner said of the death penalty proposal while at the Illinois State Police forensic laboratory in Chicago. "These individuals who commit mass murder, individuals who choose to murder a law enforcement officer, they deserve to have their life taken."

The last execution to be carried out in Illinois was in 1999, before Republican Gov. George Ryan issued a moratorium and later emptied death row, believing the system too fraught with mistakes to be tenable. Illinois had executed 12 people in the decades since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, but 13 people had been freed because of questions about their guilt. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn officially abolished the death penalty in 2011.

Rauner, an unpopular first-term governor facing a tough road to re-election in November, used his amendatory veto authority to add capital punishment and other provisions to the gun bill, including a ban on bump stocks, the rifle-firing speed accessory used in a mass shooting in Las Vegas last year. He also proposed giving the courts the authority to take guns from people deemed dangerous.

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