Additional lawmakers seeking to reinstate death penalty in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD — The increased threat of violence against law enforcement officers and recent high profile cases of children being killed have prompted two Illinois lawmakers to propose a reinstatement of the death penalty in Illinois.

State Reps. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) and John Cabello (R-Machesney Park)
State Reps. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) and John Cabello (R-Machesney Park)

State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) and John Cabello (R-Machesney Park) have introduced a bill to the General Assembly that would reinstate the death penalty for those found guilty of killing a police officer or a child.

“What we have seen this year is that we have seen law enforcement folks being targets and I don’t want that to happen here,” Mitchell said. “Capital punishment is controversial and I do respect the people who are opponents because I do think they bring to light social economic status and things like that where the playing field wasn’t level before, but I think this bill could be fine tuned to avert the problems that happened in the past in Illinois.”

Cabello, who also serves as a detective with the Rockford Police Department, says the reasoning behind this proposed law is a simple one, “First degree murder is horrible all the way around but when you do it to a police officer, when you do it to a fireman, when you do it to the people protecting us from criminals, we think there should be a heftier penalty to pay.”

Earlier this month state Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, announced he would be filing legislation also seeking to reinstate capital punishment in Illinois.

Former Illinois Governor George Ryan declared a moratorium on the state’s death penalty in the year 2000 amid concerns of corruption and former Governor Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty in 2011.

Unlike the previous, much maligned version of the death penalty in Illinois, Rep. Cabello says this version would require the family of the victim to petition in favor of capital punishment, “We feel that if a member of our society is brutally murdered, the family members of that family should be able to lobby for a new type of punishment.”

In addition to the murder of first responders, the murder of a child under the age of twelve, as well as the killing of multiple people during an act of terrorism, would also qualify for someone for capital punishment under the proposed bill.

The bill is currently in the rules committee but Rep. Cabello says he would like to see it discussed when lawmakers return to session this fall.