Monday, July 4, 2011

Illinois abolishes death penalty

CARBONDALE, IL (WSIU) - A new law took effect Friday that abolished the death penalty in Illinois.

Southern Illinois attorney Tim Capps of Carbondale was one of the first to join an elite group of trial lawyers in the state who were judged competent to handle death cases.

He says the new law will have a financial impact because the cost of trying murder cases will now fall on individual counties instead of the Capital Litigation Trust Fund.

Capps says it might be a good idea for the state to establish another fund to help counties pay for the cost of these cases.

“In order to have the best and most fair possible, you still have to have experts, you still have to have qualified attorneys. Now all of those safeguards that we been put in to place to protect innocent people from getting on death row … those aren’t going to be available to people who are facing non-death murder cases, which will be everyone who is charged with murder from here on out,”Capps said.

Capps says the average cost of a capital murder case ranges from $500 to $700 thousand, with some costing over a million dollars. He says judges will not allow murder cases to go that high now because counties will have to foot the bill.

The $420 thousand left in the capital litigation trust fund is supposed to go toward counseling for families of murder victims.

Brad Palmer, WSIU


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