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Should Illinois Reverse Its Death Penalty Ban?

Illinois repealed capital punishment in 2011. Four years and scores of horrific crimes later, a state legislator wants to bring it back. 

Sen. Bill Haine. D-Alton, was against Illinois' abolishing capital punishment a few years ago, in 2011; after all, he's a former Madison County prosecutor. Haine says since then, times have changed that have only buttressed his position. 

"There have been some dramatic, and terrible acts committed," he says. "Not only in Illinois, but in the United States, that have brought the attention of the citizens back to 'how do we establish order and justice for the innocent? And how do we punish grave evil-doers?'"

Haine says next month he'll introduce legislation that would once again allow criminals to be sentenced to death -- but only in limited cases; he says the ultimate punishment should be reserved for serial killers, the premeditated murder of police, those who kill children, and mass murderers.

"The law should be a force reckoned with. And part of that is to have available, to a prosecutor and to a jury, the option of asking for the death penalty -- if someone forfeits one's life if they cross that line," he says.

Critics of the death penalty argue it's not an effective deterrent. They also say the system is prone to racial prejudice and flaws that could send innocent people to their deaths.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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