News Release ~ 02/22/2011 A

Defense Lawyers Urge Ill. Gov. Quinn to Sign Death Penalty Bill

Washington, DC (Feb. 22, 2011) – The Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), reiterating and reinforcing its vigorous opposition to the infliction of death as punishment for crime, unanimously passed a resolution urging Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn to sign the legislation sent to him last month which would abolish the death penalty in the state. The bill has been on Quinn’s desk since passing the state senate Jan. 11.

“This is Gov. Quinn’s moment in history,” NACDL President Jim E. Lavine, a Houston criminal defense lawyer said. “With the stroke of a pen, he can eliminate the death penalty in Illinois. An astonishing number of innocent persons have been released from death row in his state. Since the people, through their legislators, have spoken, I can see no earthly or heavenly reason to risk one more innocent life with a system that just does not work.”

The Board’s resolution, passed Feb. 19 at its quarterly meeting in San Antonio, TX, noted that the state has had a moratorium on the death penalty for over 10 years. “As recent research has shown,” Lavine said, “that moratorium has resulted in considerable savings for the taxpayers. Other states, such as New Jersey and New Mexico, have found that the social and economic costs are prohibitive. Gov. Quinn should join them in eliminating capital punishment once and for all.”

Lavine sent a letter to Gov. Quinn Feb. 22 advising him of the Board’s position.

NACDL is a founding member of the National Coalition Against the Death Penalty and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, coalitions of non-profits, bar associations and others opposed to capital punishment.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's approximately 10,000 direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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