The Illinois death penalty ended as of July 1, 2011. It was officially signed into oblivion on March 9, 2011 by then Governor Pat Quinn. The black community celebrated because of the number of black men who had been released from death row based on the Innocence Project. They had been convicted and sentenced to death for crimes they were not guilty of. Politicians and activists celebrated the demise of that punishment, with many professing that spending the rest of one’s life in prison was the harder price to pay.
When the death penalty law was in existence, there was a lot of controversy as to whether the death penalty was a deterrent to criminal behavior. It’s hard to prove something is a deterrent when the crimes never occur. Over the years, there have been calls for the death penalty to be reinstated. Former Governor Bruce Rauner wanted the death penalty reinstated in the case of cop killers. It didn’t happen. This columnist asked for a return of the death penalty following the heinous execution-murder of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee. It didn’t happen. Now there are calls for the death penalty to be reinstated because of the vicious murder of Marlen Ochoa, the 19-year-old pregnant teen who was strangled and her baby cut out of her. Let’s see if that murder will make it happen.
There are numerous other cases that also can be added to the list as to reasons why we need to reinstate the death penalty. AJ Freund is one. He is the little boy whose parents brutally murdered him and then hid his body. Or Semaj Crosby, the 17-month-old whose body was found under a sofa in a filthy house. Or Kyrian Knox, the 2-year-old whose decapitated remains were found in the Garfield Park lagoon several years ago. The killer(s) who committed these crimes do not deserve to live and breathe another day.
Whatever the crime, the death penalty option needs to return. Those who murder impose the death penalty on their victim. Yet their own life is spared. Those criminals continue to eat and breathe. There is no logic in that. And after watching television shows about life imprisonment, such as Oz and Orange is the New Black, there is no fear of living the rest of one’s life in prison. Especially when prison is seen in a romanticized light as the place where one reunites with their homies and the prisoners get “three hots and a cot,” along with college degrees and sex reassignment surgery should they claim they need it.
Our society is supposed to be one of law and order. But lawlessness and disorder seems to be the bigger, growing danger. If the death penalty is returned to being the law in Illinois, it’s going to take a massive number of people demanding it. Or a declaration to politicians at election time that if they don’t support the return of the death penalty, voters will elect people who do.