To the editor:
The arc of human progress is slow and prone to setbacks. Consider abolition of the barbaric and inhumane death penalty. Seven years ago, under Gov. [Pat] Quinn, Illinois became the 17th state to abolish it, no doubt pleasing our favorite son Abe Lincoln, who must have applauded from the grave. Seven years on, Gov. [Bruce] Rauner is proposing its reinstatement, albeit for really bad guys who kill cops or multiple persons. But Rauner is doing more than simply proposing; he inserted it into a gun control bill which will extend the waiting period for purchasing assault rifles from 24 to 72 hours. The legislature must now override Rauner's death penalty provision or it becomes part of the gun control law. Rauner, desperate to win back the extreme wing of his conservative base picked off by primary challenger Jeanne Ives, is simply throwing red meat to the death penalty crowd that resides within that base. It may be the most cynical ploy yet by a governor desperately trying to win re-election after failing to implement his "turnaround agenda" in his first 3 1/2 years.
In romantic comedies, the "seven-year itch" is a stitch. Bruce Rauner's seven-year itch to reinstate the death penalty is a shameful embarrassment to Illinois. Now it's up to the legislature to keep the arc of progress in criminal justice from falling back to a barbaric age.