As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block has ceased publication. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. 

TODAY

Monday, November 20

Gapers Block
Search

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


Fuel

Andrew Huff / March 10, 2011 10:49 AM

Here are some pundits' thoughts on the matter.

On one hand, I'm not entirely opposed to the death penalty. On the other, look at how many people have ended up on death row who've been proven innocent later. The risk of killing an innocent person outweighs the justice of meting out the ultimate punishment in my mind.

vise77 / March 10, 2011 11:33 AM

I am not morally opposed to the death penalty--ideally, I would like to see it applied to the worst white collar criminals, the most corrupt politicians, gang leaders.

But, there seems to be no way to apply the penalty in a fair and reasonable manner, in a way that does not allow for many mistakes or which screws the poorest defendants. Therefore, I applaud the ban, and hope all states someday follow suit.

bob / March 10, 2011 11:49 AM

It was the right thing to do. Kudos to Governor Quinn.

fen / March 10, 2011 12:08 PM

I'm really glad.

I am opposed to the death penalty in all cases, and I could bore everyone to death with a long list of reasons, but I won't.

At the top of that list, though, is the fact that the justice system is just too flawed to apply it fairly.

Cheryl / March 10, 2011 12:22 PM

I would be for the death penalty if:

1. We could ever be positive we had the right person.

2. Killing them would bring their victims back to life.

Andy / March 10, 2011 1:22 PM

I applaud Governor Quinn. I think the death penalty is barbaric and has no place in a civilized society.

flange / March 10, 2011 1:24 PM

i'm glad the state i live in will no longer kill people to teach them it's wrong to kill people.

David / March 10, 2011 1:38 PM

While I'm morally in favor of the death penalty *, I know intellectually that the way it's currently applied has resulted in innocent people on Death Row.

Even the remotest possibility that an innocent person could be put to death simply because of a poorly functioning judiciary should be enough for the practice to be abolished.

(I'm about as flag-wavingly liberal as they come, but I do honestly believe a lot of people underestimate the very real public need for closure and, well, revenge, which the application of the death penalty can provide.)

C-Note / March 10, 2011 3:03 PM

Lack of moral opposition to the death penalty must be considered in a political context. It's understandable to sanction death as a penalty for certain crimes. However, whether it's morally acceptable to permit the state to retain that authority is a separate question. I'm not suggesting that vigilante justice is preferable. I am suggesting that killing people is not a decision we should allow government to make. It's not only the risk of error or the brutality of the process that's important. What is also important is the value we place on human life and the limits we place on government. Imagine what could happen if we decided that human life was so paramount that not even the government had the right to deprive us of it. I don't think this is a radical idea. 137 countries have abolished the death penalty. The US is in an extreme minority on this issue.

Rich / March 10, 2011 4:13 PM

Thanks to Gov. Quinn I can no longer think of Drew Peterson when I see bacon frying. Now, Drew's the bologna in the fridge that never leaves. Hey! Oh! :-)

David / March 11, 2011 9:09 AM

I'm thrilled we've banned the death penalty. The fact that we've sent innocent people to death row is enough of an argument for me. Even so, there's no evidence that the penalty actually prevents crimes, so if we're interested in a safer society, this clearly isn't the way to do it anyway,

Amanda / March 11, 2011 9:27 AM

@flange: Wow, I never thought of it that way, so thanks for that. That should be the anti-death penalty's tv ad!

madachode / March 11, 2011 9:58 AM

"I'm thrilled we've banned the death penalty. The fact that we've sent innocent people to death row is enough of an argument for me." Oh my God, innocent then why were they locked up to begin with? I agree that maybe that they were innocent of the crime they were accused of so getting let off the hook is fair enough but they were picked up arrested for some reason and if you are telling me that everyone is innocent then stop peeing on my leg and tell me its raining. All you suburban urban wannabe's have probably never had a relative murdered, raped, robbed, stabbed, or much anything short of horrific happen to your lives. Have one of these "innocents" spend the night or two at your house and see what may occur then you bleading heart know it alls would finally see how sick some of these dredges of society really are.

Charles / March 11, 2011 10:26 AM

Although the crimes that land people on death row are heinous and unwarranted, I agree with the general sentiment of previous posts. If anything, putting people to death distracts from other preventative actions, discourse, and discussion relative to crime. Taking the lives of a few convicts will not make these problems disappear, and a civilized society can't run the risk of killing innocent people either.

I can't help but think about our military and combat whenever the death penalty argument is brought up. War is not without its share of wrongful casualties, and ideally it is a measure that should never be taken. It is an action taken under the auspices of prevention when diplomacy and other and discourse fails. Short conclusion: I believe these monsters of debate are interconnected and this little thing of IL abolishing the death penalty, in my view, promotes positive human relations and is a building block in a much larger fight. So yes, Kudos to that Quinn guy.

fen / March 11, 2011 2:06 PM

@madachode - Nobody is saying that they think every person who is on death row is innocent.

If even one innocent person is put to death that is injustice.

How many innocent people do think it's OK to execute? 1 percent? 10 percent?

Keep in mind there is no evidence that the death penalty actually deters crime.

Oh, but according to you it's OK to execute people for crimes they don't commit because the mere fact that they have been picked up by the police means they must have done SOMETHING wrong -- something worthy of being put to death for.

I hope, for your sake, that you are never accused of a crime you didn't commit.

And I hope, for society's sake, that you are never allowed to serve on a jury.

madachode / March 11, 2011 7:02 PM

Sorry I didn't mean that people should be put to death for any crime but I believe that if its proven that you murder someone then you do not deserve to live, period. Being innocent is a matter of opinion, everyone in jail is innocent go visit one and ask. Sorry to disappoint you but I have served on a jury numerous times. Those convicts that are said to be innocent, the law got them for a reason everyone is guilty of something so they might as well deal with them while they got them. AS for the commenter that thinks of the military when ever the death pentalty is brought up; have your head examined.. Its people like me that give you the right to think the way you do but I saw that comment as comparing the US Military to murderous thugs that kill everyone. You need to leave my country with your 2 dads, be a pacifist somewhere else like Europe.

fen / March 11, 2011 8:25 PM

"Those convicts that are said to be innocent, the law got them for a reason everyone is guilty of something so they might as well deal with them while they got them."

But what about the ones who are there because someone lied to the police? Or because they couldn't afford a good lawyer?

Do those people deserve to die?

If you support the death penalty, you have to accept the reality that innocent people will be executed from time to time. Don't be naive and think that everyone who is convicted deserves to be there.

Just look at how many innocent people almost were executed in recent years but were saved by DNA evidence.

So let's say 1 percent of the people convicted of murder are innocent. That doesn't sound too bad unless it's you or someone you love who is in that 1 percent. What if it's 10 percent? Is that still acceptable? Where do you draw the line?

madachode / March 12, 2011 7:10 AM

I see your point but I still disagree, I think that the death penalty isn't the item that needs reform , its the system. Greasing of palms and political favors run rapent in Illinois (unions)your efforts should be concentrating on the wheels of the machine, not the death penalty itself. Quinn is pleasing all the feel goods that will wind up destroying our country's moral fabric. I have said again and again, if someone murders another they deserve the same 10x's worse. The natives are running around un-supervised, blue light cameras won't stop them but the threat of death itself will.

Charles / March 13, 2011 12:34 AM

@madachode - I am a Marine and that was not what I was saying at all. Take a class. I'm drinking a beer. Go fuck yourself.

madachode / March 13, 2011 9:33 AM

@Charles- don't care what you are drinking Navy boy.

sarah / March 13, 2011 11:22 AM

I support the repeal of the death penalty, for reasons others have stated--if it's wrong to take a life, why should the state have the right to kill someone? It's barbaric. Also, there is no evidence that it acts as a crime deterrent, which makes sense. People who commit murder are generally not thinking a whole lot about the consequences of their actions--they are not planning to be caught.

Cheryl / March 13, 2011 5:29 PM

"The natives are running around un-supervised, blue light cameras won't stop them but the threat of death itself will."

This sounds vaguely racist.

Spook / March 14, 2011 9:00 AM

O.K. I'm a registered democrat who is pro death penalty in extreme cases where guilt is 100 percent established,ie DNA, 100 percent credible witnesses, priors, implicating/ incriminating statements by the perp, lie detectors,
etc.

Yes, the above arguments against the death penalty are compelling. But frankly I just don't want a child rapist/killer breathing. More importantly, it's only fair for a victimized family (who will never be able to fill the hole in their life because of a murdered child) to be able to decide that said monster leaves this earth at an appointed time and with hopefully some of the fear and aguish experienced by the victim.

Maybe the death penalty should be at the discretion of the victimized family as it is in some other countries?

Yes I get it. The death penalty is fundamentally flawed, but so is our whole F*cking broken system that "creates" more horrific killers than those countries with out the death penalty. These flaws are due to the moral
cowardice of the majority of its people, especially our educated elite. We have "created" a system of total injustice in America and now you, instead of fighting to correct said system want to continue to "tinker" with it so you can go back to stuffing organic veggies from the farmers markets into your NPR tote bags and feel all is well in America or that it's getting better
(because we abolished the death penalty)
when if fact, it aint and the death penalty has nothing to do with it. In fact it's just a small wart on a gangrenous leg.


Meh / March 15, 2011 9:26 AM

In fact it's just a small wart on a gangrenous leg.

On that note, I find myself agreeing with Spook. I'm ambivalent on the death penalty. If I had to choose a side, I'd be opposed because at the end of the day, it's killing. I doubt that I myself or many of the tough-talking proponents would be able to pull the switch or drop the plunger on a human life, even a disgusting and worthless human life. I understand both sides ... but who cares? One of my friends was murdered a few years ago. It was one of those horrific murders ... totally random, totally innocent victim in the wrong place at the wrong time, shot in the head by two pieces of garbage. You know the type ... homegrown terrorists who ruin everything they touch. The type you and I and other productive members of society will feed, house, clothe, prosecute, incarcerate and bury during their useless, miserable lives. Whether or not I'd like to see them dead is beside the point. They did the damage and I doubt they care or even gave it a second thought. The death penalty debate is like the gun debate ... a secondary distraction. The real, larger issue is that our society produces monsters like them at an alarming rate. Whether we take them out back and put them to sleep won't make any difference.

vise77 / March 15, 2011 10:04 AM

"I doubt that I myself or many of the tough-talking proponents would be able to pull the switch or drop the plunger on a human life, even a disgusting and worthless human life."

That is a great and needed point. But, I could. I know I could. Sure, I've not been tested on that front, but I as certain as I could be that I could do that and then sleep well at night. I have no moral objection to killing those who have proven themselves unworthy or incapable of living in a civilized society.

That said, see above why I oppose the death penalty.

LaShawn Williams / March 16, 2011 11:14 AM

"Cheryl"--3 words: YOU GO, GIRL.

GB store

Recently on Fuel

Urban Ethos [26]
What is Chicago's "urban ethos"?

Cool Glass of... [16]
What're you drinking?

Supreme Decision [22]
What's your reaction to the Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act?

Taking it to the Streets [20]
Chicago Street Fairs: Revolting or Awesome?

I Can Be Cruel [9]
Be real: what is the meanest thing you've ever done?

View the complete archive

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15