Yesterday, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn made history by signing a bill banning the death penalty in that state. The Illinois state legislature had passed the bill on January 11. But, having supported the death penalty in the past, Quinn wanted to take his time in deciding whether to sign it or veto it. He also commuted the state's 15 existing death row sentences to life without parole.
This does not mean that Quinn isn't tough on crime. After all, I see life in prison as a much harsher sentence. Once you're executed, you're dead. But with life in prison, you have all your remaining years to live with the horrible crime you committed.
The criminal justice system is too seriously flawed to justify death sentences. The system is run by humans, and humans make mistakes. That is why we've seen more than 100 exonerations of death row prisoners in the U.S. who were wrongly convicted of crimes they did not commit. How many others weren't allowed to live long enough to have a chance to prove their innocence? (We know of at least a few.)
Thanks to Governor Quinn for choosing to act on the side of life, not death.