Lawmakers introduce death penalty measure - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Lawmakers introduce death penalty measure

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SPRINGFIELD -- After Governor Bruce Rauner's attempt to bring back the death penalty this month, a group of southern Illinois lawmakers join the effort.

Rep. Jerry Costello II (R-Smithton) the Second filed House Bill 5891, along with Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro), Rep. Natalie Phelps Finnie (D-Elizabethtown), Rep. Dave Severin (R-Benton) and a few others.

It strips away language about gun control that was in Rauner's original proposal.

He used his amendatory veto power to rewrite gun control bills and Costello said that made it difficult for him to vote yes on the governor's proposal because he didn't vote for those bills in the first place.

So he wanted a stripped-down bill he and other second-amendment supporters could get behind.

"I do believe that a conversation on the death penalty for people who do committ such violent acts, especially those protecting us and protecting our safety and our freedom, I think this is a conversation that needs to be had," Costello said.

The bill has a specific set of guidelines for criminals eligible for the death penalty.

"In cases beyond doubt for people who would kill law enforcement officers, firefighters, or also commit mass murder," Costello said.

Rauner said he stands with the lawmakers' effort.

Death penalty opponents got the chance to speak out against it this week in committee.

"When we react with violence in our hearts, we can't be surprised when we see violence in the streets, in our schools, churches and every place that we hold sacred," Karen Yarbrough, an anti-death penalty activist said.

And since 1990, the murder rates in states that have the death penalty have been higher than states without it, something opponents say undermines the belief that it deters crime.

Bryant disagrees with that stance.

"There are some crimes that are so heinous that a person has given up their right to live in society any longer," Bryant said. "And also has given up the right to endanger those they'll be locked up with for those very same reasons."

Having worked in the Department of Corrections, Bryant said it's possible certain criminals could kill again behind bars, if given the chance.

Costello said he's not sure if or when the bill will be called for a vote.

House Speaker Mike Madigan ultimately controls that, and while he voted in favor of abolishing the death penalty in 2011, he also allowed hearings on Rauner's proposal this week on the issue.

His spokesman, Steve Brown, said Madigan's views on the death penalty haven't changed though.

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