Author voices opposition to Rauner death-penalty proposal

Author voices opposition to Rauner death-penalty proposal

CHICAGO — A best-selling author, lawyer, and one of the 14 members appointed in 2000 to the Illinois Commission on Capital Punishment is opposed to Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposal to bring back the death penalty for mass murderers and cop killers.

Scott Turow, author of "Presumed Innocent" and an attorney for Dentons in Chicago, called the proposal "stunning and disappointing."

"There is no statistical evidence that repealing capital punishment caused an increase in the murder rate in Illinois — it dropped throughout the Moratorium — and the oft-noted recent rise in Chicago, until last year, is due to gang activity concentrated in small geographical pockets in the city," Turow said in an email to The News-Gazette.

Before Gov. George Ryan placed a moratorium on the death penalty in 2000, there were 9.8 murders per 100,000 Illinois residents, according to FBI data since 1987 compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center.

From 2000 to 2011, when Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation abolishing the death penalty, the murder rate dropped to 6.5, and after that through 2015, the murder rate dropped further to 5.7.

"I find the governor's proposal stunning and disappointing — stunning because there has been no clamor from any part of the Illinois law-enforcement community to reinstate the death penalty," Turow wrote.

And disappointing, "since it can only be read as base election-year politicking, designed to appeal to ignorance and prejudice," he said.

Rauner proposed reviving the death penalty Monday with an amendatory veto to a gun-control bill. To become law, it would have to be approved by a simple majority vote of the Illinois General Assembly.