Local

McSweeney pitches plan to restore death penalty

State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, speaks March 7, 2018, at the state Capitol in Springfield.
State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, speaks March 7, 2018, at the state Capitol in Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD – State Rep. David McSweeney has filed legislation to reinstate the death penalty in Illinois, calling it an “effective tool” to dissuade violent crime.

The Capital Crimes Litigation Act of 2019, filed Thursday, would restore the state death penalty law to what it was eight years ago, before former Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law eliminating the measure. Its purpose, according to the measure, is to “have the death penalty serve as a deterrent to violent crime with the specific goal of reducing mass shootings, serial killings and gun violence.”

At the time Quinn abolished capital punishment in Illinois, making it the 16th state to do so, he said the state should not have a system in place that might result in the killing of wrongfully convicted residents.

McSweeney said DNA technology has advanced “tremendously,” and he added the state needs “to take special care” to ensure wrongful convictions are not carried out.

Democrats have supermajorities in the House and Senate, and there is no evidence the legislation has wide support in either chamber. McSweeney said it will “take time to build up” approval, but he plans to start a conversation to have his bill heard at the committee level.

“I don’t know if I’m going to get a hearing in the short run, but I’m sure going to focus on trying to get one,” McSweeney said. “We still have violence and violent criminals in Illinois, and I hope we get [the death penalty] back. We need to get tough on crime.”

McSweeney represents the 52nd District, which includes southeast McHenry County including Cary, Algonquin and part of Crystal Lake. He has said he does not plan to seek reelection in 2020, but will seek another office in 2022.

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