Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and other Democrats are speaking out against Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposal to bring back the death penalty for some convicts.
“The death penalty should never be used as a political tool to advance one’s agenda. Doing so is in large part why we had so many problems and overturned convictions. That’s why we had bipartisan support to abolish capital punishment,” Cullerton said. “I’ve seen nothing from today’s announcement to suggest that lesson has been learned.”
In a Monday press conference, Rauner proposed bringing back the death penalty for "mass murderers" or people who kill law enforcement officers. The threshold for the death penalty would be set to a higher legal standard than "reasonable doubt" under Rauner's public safety package proposal.
“The governor had a rare chance today to take a meaningful step in reducing the gun violence epidemic by creating a 72-hour cooling-off period before allowing an individual to purchase an assault weapon. Instead, he chose to inject politics into what should be a common-sense safety issue," said Cullerton. "While I would support many of the proposals suggested by the governor, he has expanded the scope of the original legislation, which flies in the face of our state constitution. If the governor seeks to have serious negotiations on how we can eradicate gun violence, I welcome him to the conversation.”
Democratic candidate for governor J.B. Pritzker weighed in with a statement.
“Bruce Rauner hijacked a commonsense gun safety bill that he could’ve signed into law to play politics," said Pritzker. "I disagree with repealing the ban on the death penalty, but we should be able to have that debate without derailing efforts to keep children and families safe from gun violence. Illinoisans need a governor who will put people over politics and work tirelessly to end the senseless violence in our communities. I will be that leader.”
Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Daniel Biss also blasted the governor's proposal.
“This is a cynical political move that will do nothing to make our public places safer,” said Biss (D-Evanston). “As a state we made the right decision to abolish the death penalty, a process that required real leadership from Republican and Democratic governors. Sacrificing the state’s moral authority by reversing that decision would be a significant step backward.”
“The governor’s actions today were frankly a blatant attempt to kill any legislation and run out the clock before the end of the spring session. By rewriting the legislation entirely and adding demands that go against the progress we’ve made on criminal justice reform, the governor has made it clear that he has no concrete plan to address systemic gun violence," said state Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria).
The public safety package was introduced via an amendatory veto of House Bill 1468, which in its original form implemented a 72-hour waiting period for assault-style weapon purchases.