Virtual Lobby Day -Help Illinois achieve repeal!

posted Nov 21, 2010, 1:32 PM by Kathryn Hamoudah   [ updated Aug 31, 2012, 8:29 AM by GFADP staff ]

I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Chicago to work with the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty in preparation to push their repeal bill, which will be heard during the short 6 day veto session that began on November 16 and could go all the way through and pass THIS WEEK (if not this week, then at the end of the month).
After 10 years of study and the exonerations of 20 innocent men sentenced to death,  Illinois is well positioned and closer than ever to repeal, but leadership needs pressure from other states to make repeal a reality and to join the ranks of New York, New Jersey, and New Mexico by getting rid of this internationally-condemned system once and for all.  In addition, all of the major Chicago papers are speaking out in favor of repeal. Below is a recent op-ed from the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Illinois coalition is calling for a Virtual Lobby Day where people from everywhere, including right here in Georgia, are encouraged to call or fax newly re-elected Democratic Pat Quinn to support the bill and tell him that as person from a heavy use death penalty state, Illinois has a tremendous opportunity to be a leader in the abolition movement and pave the way for heavy use states like Georgia to move towards repeal.

 It was an amazing experience to spend time in a state where abolition is eminent. Although, I know we have a lot of work ahead of us here in Georgia where our reality is one of fighting expansion; fighting for contact visits for those on death row and continuing to shine light on Troy Davis' case; it was energizing to bare witness to the fact that- it can happen here and we will get there.

I hope that you all will take a moment to fax and call Governor Quinn and encourage him to have courage and stand on the side of fairness and justice when the repeal crosses his desk.

Governor Pat Quinn
Office of the Governor
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706


(f) 217-524-4049

Thank you for all that you do.

With hope,
Kathryn Hamoudah
Chairperson for Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Outlaw death penalty to save lives and cash 

November 8, 2010

Starting next week, the state Legislature will have a chance to put an end to a long-running source of injustice -- the death penalty.

We've long supported the moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois and reforms designed to protect innocent people from execution.

But now there is an opportunity to abolish capital punishment in Illinois altogether. The state Legislature should jump on it.

Already, Illinois has had too many close brushes with wrongful executions. In recent years, a staggering 20 men sentenced to death have instead been freed.

Advocates of keeping the death penalty argue that new reforms make it virtually impossible to convict an innocent person in a capital case. We've heard it before and, if Illinois keeps the death penalty, we will hear it again after the next round of controversial cases.

In the past, we've supported the death penalty as long as the legal system gives the accused a fair trial that results in a verdict of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Sadly, in light of experiences in recent years, that goal seems unrealistic.

Moreover, Illinois has spent an estimated $100 million in the last seven years to pay for the prosecution and defense in death penalty cases. On top of that, according to the Illinois Capital Punishment Reform Study Committee report released last week, civil damages paid to men freed from Death Row have totaled $64 million since 1977. It doesn't make sense to spend those dollars when a good alternative is available: life without possibility of parole.

Like the death penalty, life without parole keeps heinous criminals off our streets, deters serious offenses and gives victims a sense that justice has been served.

For the Legislature's upcoming veto session, the Illinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty is making a strong push for abolishing the death penalty and has lined up both Democratic and Republican sponsors. The effort also is supported by the Illinois State Bar Association.

Ten years ago, then-Gov. George Ryan commuted all existing death sentences to life in prison and placed a moratorium on further executions, saying he had lost confidence in the reliability of convictions in capital cases.

But that didn't abolish the death penalty, and any governor can overturn the moratorium at any time. Death Row now has 15 inmates who were sentenced after Ryan left office, and their cases are working through the appeals courts, which takes an average of 13 years.

The death penalty is arbitrary -- handed down in some cases but not in others with similar facts. Even with the best safeguards in place, it's unreliable, with irreversible consequences. And it's costly.

It's time capital punishment in Illinois comes to an end.,CST-EDT-edit08a.article