The switch in position by the Chicago Tribune is historic.

There are times when something happens, and I feel unrestrained by gravity. To quote Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel.”

“The evidence of mistakes, the evidence of arbitrary decisions, the sobering knowledge that government can’t provide certainty that the innocent will not be put to death–all that prompts this call for an end to capital punishment. It is time to stop killing in the people’s name.” (Chicago Tribune Editorial, Sunday, March 25)

The Tribune’s editorial board has long acknowledged problems with the death penalty. Still, it has always embraced execution while calling for reform. No more. Racism, arbitrariness, cruelty, execution of the innocent–all of these are cited by the Tribune in the reversal of their position. “It is time to stop killing in the people’s name.” It can’t be fixed, so it must be stopped. What a declaration.

Abolition of the death penalty requires action by our state legislators. Oak Park is represented by two state senators and two state representatives. Of these, Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-4) and representatives LaShawn Ford (D-8) and Deborah Graham (D-78) support abolition.

Rep. Graham is my voice in the Illinois House. When she first ran for office, I asked her about abolition of the death penalty. Her answer surprised me: “We can do better than just killing people.” This was a human response, not a political calculation.

Now that the Chicago Tribune has joined the abolition movement, I hope our legislators can find the votes to terminate state murder. Fence-sitters, take courage. The Tribune has provided cover. And those of you who believe there is justice in extermination, the monster you defend has you keeping company with the justice (sic) systems of China, Iran and Saudi Arabia. According to a report by Amnesty International, in 2005, the U.S. ranked fourth behind these countries in the number of lives legally “snuffed.”

For abolition … now.

Tom Broderick
Oak Park

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