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Death Penalty Proposal Perspective From "Injustice Watch"

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Earlier this week Governor Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory vetoof gun legislation and added his own ideas, including a plan to reinstate the death penalty in certain cases. It would apply to mass shooters and those who kill police officers.

Rob Warden is the co-founder of an investigative reporting project called Injustice Watch - which shines a light on "institutional failures that obstruct justice and equality." He also founded and directed the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University.

In a recent column on the topic he leads with the following, "While Governor Bruce Rauner’s proposal to restore the death penalty is a terrible idea for Illinois, it would be a step in the right direction if his concept were implemented in the 31 states that still have death penalties."

Meanwhile, he says Rauner's idea to have the death penalty apply only in specific cases where there is a higher standard of guilt portrays a lack of understanding. "There is no concept of 'absolute proof' in American law," he said. 

Warden says while the legislature has the power to restore the death penalty - doing so, even if limited it to specific cases, would open the door to changes that would further who is applicable. "Before you know it, you wind up just back where we were, where essentially any murder case would somehow qualify for the death penalty," said Warden.

Listen to the above interview for more on Illinois and its recent history with the death penalty - and read Warden's column here.

Rachel Otwell of the Illinois Times is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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