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Ban Wouldn’t Clear Death Row; Cruz Says That’s The Right Thing

Publication Date: 
January 12, 2011
Chicago Daily Herald
Jake Griffin

Professor Lawrence Marshall speaks with Jake Griffin of the Chicago Daily Herald regarding legislation which could repeal the death penalty in Illinois.

Even if Gov. Pat Quinn signs legislation that would repeal the death penalty, it would have no bearing on 15 inmates on death row.

And that’s just fine with former death row inmate Rolando Cruz, who was exonerated for the 1983 murder of Naperville 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico.

Cruz believes the inmates already facing death deserve it. “People owe it to the victims,” he said Wednesday.

But Quinn would also have to lift the moratorium that prohibits death sentences from being carried out in the state, Department of Corrections officials said.


Also Wednesday, Cruz’s former attorney Lawrence Marshall said the possible repeal is a “vindication” of many people’s work over the years. Marshall co-founded the Center for Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University following his work on the Cruz case.

“It’s really a great testament to the extent to which the legislature takes so seriously the grave risk of executing the innocent as well as the other problems with the death penalty,” Marshall said by phone from his office at Stanford University where he now teaches. “My strong hope is that significant resources will be saved by doing away with the death penalty.”

Marshall suggested money that used to go toward capital litigation be used instead for victim counseling, financial assistance for victims and additional policing resources.

“There’s no evidence that the death penalty prevents murders,” he said, “but there is evidence that increased policing prevents crime.”