Yesterday (March 9) Gov. Quinn signed legislation abolishing the death penalty in Illinois. I applaud the governor for this decision, and I appreciate the arduous decision-making process he employed to reach this point. In my eight years in the Illinois General Assembly there have been few issues that I have wrestled with to this degree, and I am certain our governor had an equally difficult time. The hard reality of our situation must take precedence. Our state has come breathtakingly close to executing innocent people. In the past decade, the Illinois legislature has attempted to reform the death penalty to ensure that no innocent person is convicted, sentenced and put to death in error. I am not convinced that reforming the death penalty provides the requisite certainty that the state will not execute an innocent person. As a direct result of this and other factors, I joined my colleagues in voting to repeal the death penalty. I believe that decision acknowledges the fundamental progress of our civilization as Illinois joins numerous other states which have recently elected to abolish the death penalty.

Don Harmon
State Sen. 39th District