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Why Repeal the Death Penalty?
Financing the Death Penalty is Far More Expensive for Taxpayers than Alternatives
Since 2003, taxpayers have spent more than $100 million on the Capital Litigation Trust Fund – despite the moratorium blocking all executions.
Illinois courts are moving away from the death penalty. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, since 2003, there have been 4,760 murders and only 16 death sentences handed down by the legal system in Illinois.
Cost studies in other states and at the federal level have put the death penalty at 8 to 10 times the cost of life without parole, and New Jersey spent an estimated $250 million while executing no one between 1982 and 2005. Resources should be redirected to help victims’ families and boost preventative law enforcement efforts, and that's exactly what SB3539 did! With the repeal of capital punishment in Illinois, the Capital Litigation Trust Fund will be re-purposed to victims' services and law enforcement training.
The Death Penalty Poses Risks of Executing the Innocent - System Remains Broken
Illinois has the nation's second-highest rate of flawed death row convictions, with 20 men exonerated from their sentences after evidence of their wrongful convictions emerged.
The current DNA backlog of 20,000 cases may result in additional exonerations. In addition, DNA evidence only exists in less than 15 percent of criminal cases. Lack of progress may result in innocent people being sent to death row.
The Death Penalty Process Harms Victims’ Families
To be meaningful, justice should be swift and sure. The death penalty is neither – on average the process takes at least 10 years.
Under the moratorium, a capital punishment sentence prolonged pain for victims’ families, dragging them through a lengthy process that held an empty promise of an execution.
Life without parole produces immediate certainty without the media spotlight.
The death penalty is “too costly for Illinois.” Public opinion supports tough sentences, but does not support the death penalty. It’s a public policy that risks executing the innocent, fails to meet the needs of murder victims’ families and costs millions of dollars more than alternatives. The time for repeal was long overdue.