by Catherine McBreen
Today Illinois' Governor Pat Quinn officially abolished the death sentence in Illinois. This act came after several mis-steps by Illinois when prisoners on death row were found to be innocent based upon DNA evidence not available when the crimes were committed. George Ryan, who was Governor at that time, put a halt to any further executions....and let all of the prisoners on death row go free....whether they were guilty or not.
It's not that Pat Quinn's official abolishment of the death penalty is a bad thing....arguably it's a very good thing depending on what side of the political fence you may sit upon....but is just doesn't seem like the type of issue that should be important in a state like Illinois at the moment. (Granted, if my child were sitting on Death Row it would be a very important issue.)
Illinois, like its West Coast friend in bankruptcy - California, has a lot more important issues to worry about than the death penalty. Illinois has a huge deficit...yet the state chooses to spend time on social issues rather than economic issues.
Did you know that Illinois and California are the only two states that haven't even considered eliminating state pensions?
I hate to say it, but many of these states act somewhat "emotionally" rather than "pragmatically". I wonder if it is because of the people that populate them...or if it is the traditional cultural approach of that region. For example, I am sure that pragmatic Midwestern states like Kansas and Nebraska first balance their state budgets and then take on the social issues. Most of the people I have met from Kansas and Nebraska are very practical.....they don't waste money...they don't get too emotional, etc.
Illinois, on the other hand, has a history of emotional ebullient responses. The jubilant St. Patrick's Day Parades, the downtrodden support of the Cubs, the reputation for somewhat crooked politics. And California....what can I say? Clearly if any state had to be identified as having a "unique" culture......
(Sometimes, unfortunately, my own household acts more like California or Illinois than Kansas or Nebraska.)
So as California worries about legalizing marijuana and Illinois abolishes the death penalty, the other states try to balance their budgets, pay their bills......
Mr. Quinn, are you listening??