01 July 2011

July 1

It is the first day of July.  In Illinois where I live, this is the day when most laws passed by the General Assembly take effect.  A smaller chunk of the laws take effect on January first.  This July first is significant.  

As of today: July first, twenty-eleven, Illinois does not have a death penalty. This is huge because it is something done by the legislative process, representing the electorate, not a judicial action.  The way the American republic is supposed to work, it is precisely the elected officials who are supposed to make our laws.

It also means more likely than not, that the change is indelible.  While it is true that another legislature might pass a different law, it is also true that passing a law is hard.  The simple fact that there is a law in place makes it likely it will stay in place.

Illinois adds a small but measurable amount of inertia against allowing the death penalty anywhere in America.  Yes I think that is a good thing.  We need a national discussion of what reasonable sentences and reasonable law is.  We can begin best by getting out of the killing business.


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