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Barrington Area Lawmaker Reacts to Death Penalty Decision

State Rep. Tom Morrison disagreed with Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to sign legislation abolishing the death penalty in Illinois.

After more than a decade in limbo, the death penalty has been abolished in Illinois.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the legislation today, citing that since 1977 20 individuals sentenced to die have been exonerated. Seven of those instances have occurred since 2000, the year former Gov. George Ryan imposed a moratorium on executions.

"As a state, we cannot tolerate the executions of innocent people because such actions strike at the very legitimacy of a government," Quinn said in a statement.

Quinn said the number of innocent people sentenced to die led him to his decision.

"To say that this is unacceptable does not even begin to express the profound regret and shame we, as a society, must bear for these failures of justice," Quinn said.

Quinn said he did not believe there was a way to design a "perfect death penalty system," adding that flaws can lead to wrongful convictions.

"I have also decided the commute the sentences of those currently on death row to natural life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole or release," Quinn stated.

Barrington Area State Rep. Tom Morrison, R-54th District, said he disagreed with Quinn's decision and beleives Illinois residents will push for reinstatement of the death penalty.

"There is no question that legislation determining the life or death of a human being comes with great difficulty and consequence," Morrison said. "Many cases have been brought forth in support of the repeal, but we can not forget about the families of victims of brutal murder and the justice they deserve."

Morrison said when people confess to horrible crimes and there is corroborating evidence such as DNA they should qualify for the death penalty.

"An injustice has taken place today in Illinois for victims' families and law enforcement," Morrison said. "I strongly disagree with the governor's decision."

Barbara Zimmerman March 10, 2011 at 04:15 PM
I totally agree with you...And it is sad that we as tax paying citizens have to pay for this, why so many people have to go without health ins...What is wrong with this picture..I pay to keep these individuals alive, they get doctor care, . food but yet we cant afford to keep our own ins...So we do with out...Whats next.Gov. Quinn...
D March 10, 2011 at 05:45 PM
Aside from questions of morality regarding the death penalty, I struggle to understand how someone who favors the death penalty can accept the death of someone who may be falsely accused and convicted. If it's "sad that we as tax paying citizens ...pay to keep these individuals alive," it is worse that someone falsely convicted may be put to death. Yes, it is deplorable that a crime resulted in victims, but it is equally deplorable if the possibility of a second victim is deemed an acceptable price to pay for a supposed deterrent to crime.
Harvey March 11, 2011 at 12:08 AM
Quinn did the right thing. Until the judicial system can figure out how to quit putting innocent men on death row, they should not be allowed to have the death penalty an option. Morrison can console himself with the notion that life in prison without parole is a death penalty of a different sort.
Melissa March 11, 2011 at 02:44 PM
Economic concerns about the cost of life in prison should never override the truth we now know - innocent people have been executed and put on death row. While I cannot speak for them, it is fair to assume that, as painful as their experience must be, victims' families do not want a potentially innocent person put to death. (As the Innocence Project and others have shown, confessions and evidence are not always what they seem.) The moral argument against the death penalty is clear; the money argument also is clear: Research consistently shows that it is considerably more expensive to execute than imprison for life. In other words, the cost of capital trials and appeals as well as execution itself is often if not always higher than life imprisonment. Whether concerned most about morals or money, tax payers should be relieved by Governor Quinn's decision.

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