A lengthy report was issued last month by the Illinois Capital Punishment Reform Study Committee (read it in its entirety here). Several reforms were suggested by the Committee (read them here) – but it doesn’t seem that much coverage has been provided the Committee’s efforts by the news media.
Or so writes James Warren of the Chicago News Cooperative in a guest piece in the New York Times. According to Mr. Warren, news editors just don’t find capital punishment reform all that interesting these days, and the Report hasn’t been very popular in the Illinois press.
So, he’s written for the New York TImes, which hopefully gives the Report some worthwhile exposure — as well as one of the points that Mr. Warren makes: and it’s about MONEY.
Apparently, indigent defense funding for death penalty matters in the State of Illinois is quite curious. There’s no rhyme nor reason, and prosecutors are able to get their maws into the same pot that has funds for defense counsel appointed to represent the poor and meet their constitutional right to counsel in cases where the death penalty is at stake.
According to Mr. Warren’s piece, the money is actually an incentive in Illinois to pursue capital punishment by the State (where many counties are broke right now). Gets money into the system, so why not seek capital punishment, the Illnois district attorney is purportedly pondering.
Well, this is yet another spin on the indigent defense crisis in this country. There’s not enough money to provide adequate defense for death penalty defendants (as we write about regularly here). Interesting that there apparently isn’t enough to prosecute them, either.