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State Level Bans of Death Penalty Gaining Steam

March 26, 2012, 9:49 am | Posted by Christopher Hale

A state-by-state, nation-wide repeal of the death penalty once seemed impossible, but now that movement is steadily gaining momentum across the United States.

A year ago, Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn signed legislation banning the death penalty in Illinois. Reflecting on that decision, Charles W. Hoffman, assistant defender in the Office of the Illinois State Appellate Defender wrote an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times affirming it as the right move:

The rightness of that decision is more clear than ever. Violent crime rates have not climbed. The public is no less safe. And the pursuit of justice has been served, not undermined.

Our system of capital punishment was abolished because it was broken beyond repair, infected with racism and inherently arbitrary and prone to mistakes. There is no doubt we’re better off without the death penalty, both morally and fiscally. The first anniversary of the abolition of that barbaric practice in Illinois is a joyous, and yet somber, occasion, which gives us all the opportunity to reflect on the profound fact that we, as a sovereign state, no longer kill people to show that killing people is wrong.

Illinois’s efforts are providing an example now for other states. Earlier this month in California, a group of policymakers who originally drafted the state’s death penalty law [deleted comma] abruptly changed their position and are now advocating for the repeal of the state’s costly capital punishment system.

Strengthened efforts are also underway in PennsylvaniaMaryland, and North Carolina.

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